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MTA predicts reduced Memorial Day Weekend traffic due to COVID-19

Maine Turnpike Authority Logo FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2020
Erin Courtney
CONTACT: Dan Morin (MTA)

MTA predicts reduced Memorial Day Weekend traffic due to COVID-19

Motorists reminded to practice safe driving on roadways

PORTLAND, Maine – Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff to summer vacation season in Maine  and is typically one of the year’s busiest weekends.   A month ago, Turnpike traffic was down by over half. In just the last couple of weeks traffic has come back to about 70 percent of what it was a year ago. 

If we assume that traffic will continue at only 70 percent of what it was last year, we would have to go back to the year 2000 to see such low numbers. In 2000, the turnpike had 63 million transactions for the year.  In 2019, there were 90 million.  

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the turnpike had seen a 4.5 percent growth in traffic for 2020. In April, with much of the state under stay at home orders, turnpike traffic was down 53.7 percent compared to April of 2019.   For this year to date, traffic through the end of April is down 18 percent from last year.

“The good news is, we are beginning to see traffic come back.  We’ve seen incremental increases in weekday traffic already and with a sunny forecast everywhere in Maine this weekend, we suspect there will be more people on the road than we’ve seen since the outbreak began,” said Peter Mills, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority.  

It is likely that most of that traffic will be generated by Maine people anxious to get out for day trips.  Traffic from Canada is blocked by border closures and traffic from other states will remain reduced.
MTA is reminding motorists to drive safely and take proper precautions during the summer vacation season.  Here are some summer safety driving reminders:

  • Put the Phone Down - Maine’s handsfree law prohibits drivers from holding or manipulating a cellphone or other electronic device while driving. Fines for the first offense are $50 and the second offense is $250.
  • Speed Limits Have Not Changed Although there may be less traffic on the roads, the speed limits remain the same.  Please obey posted speed limits at all times.
  • Summer is Construction Season in Maine - Make sure to be cautious while traveling through work zones.  Obey the posted speeds and watch out for stopped vehicles in front of you.  Stay alert, do not get distracted by the construction activity.
  • Summer Means Campers and Boats on Our Roads – If you cannot see an RV’s mirrors, then they can’t see you.  Travel at a safe distance. If you are hauling a boat or camper, make sure the lights are connected and working properly.