These are the best and worst times to drive during Labor Day weekend

Travel

For those driving, it’s best to hit the road early in the morning or in the evening.

Charles Krupa
A previous traffic jam on Route 93 South in Boston. Charles Krupa

More than half of all Americans will travel this Labor Day weekend, according to The Vacationer.

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“Summer travel has been hot all season long with increased travel for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Expect the same for Labor Day,” the travel website wrote in its annual Labor Day survey.

More than 57% of Americans will travel this weekend, up 4% from last year, according to the survey. For those hitting the road, planning ahead is key, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

“We encourage members of the public to use MassDOT’s resources before planning travel for the Labor Day Weekend,” Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, said in a statement. “By planning ahead, you can select the best travel times, avoid congestion, and have a safer and more efficient trip.”

There’s good news for Boston drivers when it comes to the Sumner Tunnel connecting East Boston to downtown Boston: It will reopen on Friday after a two-month closure.

However, though the tunnel is reopening, MassDOT still recommends folks use public transportation to get to and from Logan Airport due to an increase in air travelers this holiday weekend. AAA says domestic bookings this weekend are up 4% and international bookings are up 44%.

For those driving, it’s best to hit the road early in the morning or in the evening, said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, in a AAA report.

In general, the worst time to travel by car over the holiday weekend is between noon and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30 and Thursday, Aug. 31; between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1; between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2; and between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 4, according to INRIX, which noted that, on Sunday, Sept. 3, there will be “minimal traffic impact.”

The best travel times by car this weekend are: Wednesday and Thursday before 7 a.m., Friday before 11 a.m., Saturday after 6 p.m. and Monday after 7 p.m. Once again, on Sunday is expected to be the lightest traffic day, according to INRIX.

Boston drivers this holiday weekend will find one of the most congested routes in the nation from Boston to Hyannis on Pilgrim Highway S. The stretch will see a 54% increase over normal traffic levels with a peak on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 3:30 p.m., according to INRIX, and the estimated travel time is 1 hour 58 minutes.

MassDOT reports it has done the following to prepare for busy roads this weekend:

— As of 5 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, scheduled, non-emergency construction outside of fixed work zones will be shut down and resume at the start of normal business hours on Tuesday, Sept. 5.   

— The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on I-93 between Boston and Quincy will begin earlier than usual in the afternoons, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, and 1 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 1. The HOV lane will have regular morning hours on Thursday and Friday and will be closed in the morning and afternoon on Monday, Sept. 4.   

— The additional “swing lane” on Route 1A southbound at the Sumner Tunnel will not be open on Monday, Sept. 4, and will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 5.  

“If you must travel during heavy traffic, navigation apps and local departments of transportation can help steer drivers around long delays,” Pishue advised.

Travelers can download the Mass511 mobile app or visit www.mass511.com to view live cameras, travel times, and real-time traffic conditions before taking to the roads. Users can subscribe to receive text and email alerts.

Folks can also follow @MassDOT on X (formerly known as Twitter) to receive updates on road and traffic conditions or dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions.

The MBTA released the following information regarding travel on Monday, Sept. 4, with more information available at www.mbta.com/holidays:   

  • All subway lines, bus routes, and the RIDE will operate on a Sunday schedule.   
  • The Commuter Rail will operate on a weekend schedule.  
  • The Hingham – Hull – Logan Airport – Long Wharf (F2H) ferry will operate on a Sunday schedule. There will be no Hingham – Rowes Wharf (F1) ferry service.  
  • The Charlestown Ferry and the East Boston Ferry will operate on a weekend schedule.  
  • There will be no Lynn ferry or Winthrop ferry service. 
  • The CharlieCard Store will be closed. 

Drivers will see gas prices this weekend similar to last year, according to AAA, and the national average for a gallon of regular on Labor Day in 2022 was $3.78.


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