Travel to and from Maine remained depressed over Christmas weekend.
Figures from the Maine Turnpike Authority show 60,429 vehicles passed through the York toll plaza Dec. 24-26, compared with 103,948 vehicles over the same three days last year. That’s a 42 percent decline.
That was a steeper decline than projected by the Maine Turnpike Authority before the holiday weekend, but it coincided with a rain and wind storm on Christmas Day. That not only made travel more hazardous, but Turnpike Authority Executive Director Peter Mills said the rain and mild temperatures may also have discouraged skiers and snowmobilers who might have otherwise driven north for a holiday weekend on the slopes and trails.
At the Portland International Jetport, the number of passengers going through security screening on those same three days was 2,869, down 68 percent from the same three days last year. However, Dec. 23 was a much busier day at the jetport, with 1,856 passengers, just 19.7 percent below the same day last year.
And Bangor International Airport reported its passenger traffic so far in December is running 43 percent behind December 2019.
Portland Jetport Assistant Manager Zach Sundquist said the decline in passengers flying out of Portland roughly matched the decline in flights serving the city, so flyers likely found their aircraft full.
As for maintaining social distancing in the terminal, Sundquist said, “The spoke airports like Portland, where you’re starting and ending your journey, the social distancing, the spreading out has been pretty easy to do.”
He said pictures of crowded airport terminals are likely hub airports where flyers change planes.
The story was different for in-state travel. Citing state transportation department figures, Mills said traffic on Maine’s other roads was down just 16 percent Dec. 20-26, compared with last year. That could represent many families and friends gathering for Christmas, which could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the days ahead.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.