Labor Day weekend travel forecast: sunny and heavy traffic

- The upcoming Labor Day weekend is expected to be mostly sunny, and one of the most heavily traveled weekends in Chicago and surrounding areas.

The holiday weekend is expected have highs near 80 degrees, and a few chances for thunderstorms at the end of the holiday, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday and Saturday are expected to be sunny with highs near 75 degrees. Sunday and Monday are also expected to be sunny but with highs near 85 degrees. Following Labor Day, a chance of showers and thunderstorms are expected Tuesday night.

More than 1.7 million passengers are expected at O’Hare and Midway between September 1 to September 6. The busiest travel day is projected to be Thursday at Midway with 76,000 passengers and Friday at O’Hare with 251,000 passengers, according to Chicago Department of Aviation.

“This has been one of the busiest summers on record for air travel at Chicago’s airports and that trend will continue over the Labor Day holiday weekend,” said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans in a statement.

Passengers traveling through Chicago airports on Friday can enjoy live entertainment in the baggage claim area at Midway and in the domestic terminals at O’Hare. Midway ambassadors will offer complimentary lemonade to passengers on Friday and Tuesday as well, according to CDA.

Nearly 55 percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices, according to AAA. However, heading into Labor Day weekend the national average gas prices are on the rise.

The Illinois Tollway anticipates 7.8 million vehicles will travel the tollway system this holiday weekend, with the heaviest traffic on Friday. To accommodate the increase, most construction and lane closures will be restricted.

A reminder to drive sober this weekend comes from the The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police. Last year 13 people were killed in crashes over Labor Day weekend, three of which involved drivers who tested positive for alcohol, according to IDOT.

If you’d rather not drive, Metra is offering additional early departures for nine of its 11 lines from downtown on Friday. The Metra weekend pass will include Labor Day and kids under 11 can ride for free. On Monday, Metra will operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule. However, the SouthWest Service, Heritage Corridor and North Central Service trains will not operate on Monday, according to Metra.

Additionally, this Tuesday the CTA will provide all students and accompanying adults with free bus and train rides on the first day of the CPS school year. While school is in session, the CTA will continue to offer 75 cent fares for elementary and high school students.

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