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The Maine Turnpike expects record traffic for Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day Traffic Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
A motorist from Massachusetts flies an American flag ahead of the Memorial Day holiday while traveling on the Maine Turnpike, Friday, May 28, 2021, in Kennebunk, Maine. The state expects a large increase in the number of out-of-state visitors over last year when the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of businesses to close.

Drivers appear poised to shake off pandemic worries and fill the Maine Turnpike with a record volume of traffic this weekend. The Turnpike Authority is projecting an 11% increase in traffic this holiday weekend over Memorial Day weekend last year.

Turnpike Authority spokeswoman Erin Courtney says traffic has been rising to record levels this year and even high gas prices have barely affected the increase.

"Based on what we're seeing and hearing, there's pent-up demand to travel," Courtney says.

Construction work along the highway will be suspended for the weekend, but Courtney says drivers should still observe reduced speed limit in work zones.

She points, in particular, to a stretch of road in South Portland, where crews are widening the highway and re-building Exit 45.

Drivers will encounter the heaviest traffic northbound on Friday afternoon and southbound on Monday afternoon.