Construction projects on hold for holiday weekend

Surging gas prices not expected to impact travel
Construction projects on hold for holiday weekend

Memorial Day weekend travelers are being asked to plan ahead, buckle up, and be patient while driving during one of the busiest travel times of the year. Travel is up by 6 percent in 2018, according to TripAdvisor’s annual Memorial Day travel survey; nearly one-third of people surveyed will be traveling this weekend.

Of those traveling, 74 percent will be driving and 32 percent will be flying to their destinations. Even though air travel is also up by 6 percent, 9 out of 10 travelers said that the increase in gas prices will not affect their Memorial Day travel plans.

While most highway construction projects are being put on hold this weekend, motorists will likely encounter work zones requiring reduced speed and extra caution.

To help accommodate more cars out on the roads, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is temporarily halting construction work on many highway improvement projects across the state. Workers will open as many highway lanes as possible, but motorists are still encouraged to allow extra travel time and expect slower traffic in work zones.

WisDOT’s project communication manager, Steven Theisen, says the decision to pause work in construction zones for the holiday weekend eases traffic concerns, keeps, workers safe, and gives them some well-deserved days off.

“The workers do a great job throughout the rest of the year, so they certainly value and deserve their time off,” Theisen said.

Theisen also encourages all drivers to be extra alert, even though workers won’t be on site, and obey all posted signs. “All the work zone signage, they must certainly obey that,” he said. “It comes down to three things: planning ahead, being patient, and eliminating distractions.”

WisDOT released a list of work zones with significant road construction projects that may impact Memorial Day weekend travel. Included on that list are several projects in south-central Wisconsin:

I-39/90 in Dane and Rock Counties
Verona Road (US 18/151) in Dane County
US 151 in Dane and Columbia counties

Construction in most highway work zones will stop by noon on Friday, May 25 and will not restart until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 29.

Peak travel times are expected between noon and 8 p.m. on both Friday, May 25 and Monday, May 28.

The big travel weekend comes amid surging gas prices that are inching their way to the $3 mark. Even though air travel is up by six percent, driving is still the Memorial Day weekend travel method of choice; 90 percent of travelers say the increase in gas prices will not affect their travel plans.

More officers will also be out on the roadways, enforcing the statewide “Click it or Ticket” initiative, making sure drivers and their passengers buckle up.

“Troopers don’t necessarily want to write as many tickets as possible,” said Theisen. “It’s making sure people voluntarily comply with traffic laws. Something as simple as buckling up every time for a safe journey: just buckle up and hit the road.”

The majority of travelers will be going to the beach/ocean (26 percent), visiting a city (24 percent), heading to a lake (11 percent), or visiting national parks (9 percent.)

For a list of what’s happening in and around the Madison area during Memorial Day weekend 2018, head here.