Labor Day weekend travel forecast: Hot and heavy traffic

(Sun Times Media Wire)

CHICAGO (STMW) - Though the holiday traditionally represents the end of summer, the upcoming Labor Day weekend is expected to be hot—with heavy traffic in the air and on the ground in Chicago and surrounding areas.

The holiday weekend is expected to be mostly sunny with highs near 90, and a few chances for thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday is expected to see a high in the upper 80s with a chance of showers and storms in the afternoon. Saturday will be mostly sunny in the high 80s with another chance for storms in the afternoon.

On Sunday, the temperatures will rise into the low 90s with a slight chance of showers and storms overnight. Labor Day could see a high up to 84, but temperatures will cool off significantly to the mid-60s by Monday night. There is also a slight chance of storms Monday night.

More than 35.5 million American are expected to take advantage of the weather and travel at least 50 miles over the Labor Day weekend, the highest travel volume for the holiday since 2008, according to AAA.

In Illinois, 1.9 million people will travel over the holiday weekend. The majority will be taking road trips—and they will enjoy significantly lower gas prices than last year, according to AAA. Gas prices were averaging $2.98 in Illinois on Wednesday, down from $3.52 in 2014.

The Illinois Tollway expects 7.4 million vehicles to travel the tollway system over the weekend, according to a statement. The heaviest travel is expected Friday, when nearly 1.8 million vehicles will be on the road.

Illinois State Police and IDOT reminded drivers Wednesday not to drink and drive over the weekend. Last year in Illinois, 16 people were killed in crashes over the Labor Day weekend. More than 250 local police departments, along with ISP and Secretary of State police, will conduct roadside safety checks and stepped-up impaired driving and seat belt enforcement details.

If you’d rather stay off the roads, the CTA will be adding extra service for revelers heading to events in the city, including the Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park, the North Coast Music Festival in Union Park, and the rugby match Saturday at Soldier Field. However, on Monday, all CTA buses and trains will run on a Sunday schedule in observance of the holiday.

Metra trains will also run a Sunday/holiday schedule on Monday, and will run an early quit schedule Friday. Commuters are advised to check for schedules. Also, no alcohol will be allowed on Metra trains from 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The Chicago Department of Aviation anticipates more than 1.2 million passengers will travel through O’Hare and Midway International Airports from Friday to Tuesday.

O’Hare is expected to reach nearly 964,000 passengers during the five-day travel period, which is 4 percent higher than Labor Day 2014, according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Midway is expected to reach nearly 330,000 passengers, which is 3 percent higher than the previous Labor Day holiday, the statement said.

The busiest travel day at both airports is projected to be Friday, with more than 220,000 passengers at O’Hare and nearly 76,000 passengers at Midway.

The airports will be celebrating the holiday with American flags and patriotic decor displayed outside and inside the perimeters. Airport ambassadors at Midway will also offer complimentary lemonade to passengers on Friday and Tuesday.

Concessionaires at both airports will give passengers a patriotic pin with any store or restaurant purchase on Monday.

O’Hare travelers are advised to allow for extra time to travel to the airport due to several roadway construction projects occurring in and around O’Hare.