YORK, Maine — Drivers heading to and from Maine this Labor Day weekend should plan ahead for heavy traffic on Interstate 95 and the Maine Turnpike.
Maine transportation officials are anticipating more than 1 million vehicles will travel the turnpike from Friday through Monday.
The Maine Turnpike Authority expects traffic to be up compared with last year’s Labor Day weekend, despite 2018 being a “banner year” for turnpike traffic. Year-to-date through July, traffic is up 2.66 percent, compared with the same period in 2018. Through July, the authority has recorded more than 51 million transactions, compared with 49.7 million recorded through July 2018.
Peak travel times this weekend are expected to be northbound between 3 and 7 p.m. Friday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday in both directions and southbound between noon and 7 p.m. Monday.
The turnpike authority estimated there were more than 700,000 transactions along the turnpike between June 28 and July 5 as part of the past Fourth of July weekend. Traffic during holiday weekends typically slows not only around the York toll plaza, but throughout New Hampshire’s section of I-95.
For more information and to sign up for alerts about the ongoing Piscataqua River Bridge project and the York toll plaza relocation, visit the Maine Ahead website www.buildingabettergateway.com. For real-time traffic conditions on the busiest sections of the turnpike, visit www.maineturnpike.com/Traveler-Services/Traffic-Cams.aspx.
Continuing on a Labor Day weekend tradition, drivers traveling southbound through the York toll plaza could be approached by a two-legged moose in a fluorescent-yellow safety vest — Miles, Maine Turnpike’s mascot. Miles will be joined by Clawdette the lobster, and turnpike employees as they thank motorists for visiting.
Turnpike employees celebrate the unofficial end of summer by thanking outbound visitors personally, going from car to car once traffic begins to backup, to hand out small gifts of Maine-made products. This year’s giveaways will be bags of handmade Fox Family Potato Chips and bottles of water.
“We started handing out Maine-centric gifts to our southbound customers on Labor Day in 2002,” the authority’s spokeswoman, Erin Courtney, said. “It’s a great way to say ‘thank-you’ to thousands of our customers and highlight some of Maine’s fantastic products.”
Stickers on the potato chip bags will invite visitors to post their favorite Maine vacation photos online with the hashtag #MaineTurnpike for a chance to win a free Maine lobster dinner for four, shipped directly to their door. Turnpike staff members will be monitoring Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to choose a winner at random.
The authority said total traffic numbers from the holiday weekend will be available Tuesday.