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Warmer temps, more travelers on tap for holiday weekend

Charles E. Ramirez, and Mark Hicks

This Memorial Day weekend, Metro Detroiters can expect to see more travelers, higher gas prices, seasonable temperatures and a smattering of road closures during the annual rite of departure.

AAA estimates more than 1.2 million Michiganians will journey at least 50 miles from home through Monday for picnics, parades or play — a 2.5 percent increase from 2016 and the highest Michigan travel volume for the holiday since 2006.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Vicky Evans, assistant vice president, travel sales development. “So far in 2017, travel bookings with AAA in Michigan are up over 6 percent, compared to the same period last year.”

She cited consumer confidence, better wages and gas prices “leaving many Americans with more money to spend on travel this Memorial Day.”

Just as Memorial Day kicks off the summer driving season, the majority of travelers are set to reach their destinations in a car: 1 million compared to 60,000 flying and more than 50,000 traveling by train, bus or ship, the group found.

As drivers finalize plans over the holiday and for summer vacations, they can expect to pay slightly more for a gallon of gasoline than they did last year, according to a Summer Fuel Price Appraisal released Wednesday by the Michigan Agency for Energy.

Those who drive diesel fuel vehicles should see a bigger bump in prices at the pumps compared to a year ago, officials predict.

Based on federal Energy Information Administration forecasts, the average price per gallon of unleaded gasoline nationwide is expected to be $2.39 during the summer driving season, which runs through September, according to the MAE report. That’s an increase of 16 cents per gallon over summer 2016. That would add about $160 to how much the average household spends annually on gasoline.

Still, even if gas prices this holiday top last year’s levels, “they should remain well below” what was seen on Memorial Day 2016, AAA officials said Wednesday.

The roads could present other problems for motorists this weekend. Through Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Transportation has announced a number of lane and ramp closures on major thoroughfares such as M-59 and Interstate 75. And on the holiday, community events are slated to affect a handful of local roads in Oakland and Macomb counties.

Officials for Detroit Metro Airport said Friday they also expect to see an increase in travelers over the holiday weekend.

Erica Donerson, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Airport Authority, said it's difficult to forecast passenger traffic, but the airport expects traffic for the holiday weekend will be up from the same period last year because overall passenger traffic is up slightly over last year.

On Friday, Celestine Jackson stopped by the Home Depot on 12 Mile at Interstate 75 to pick up some hanging plants for her garden.

"I'm getting ready for the weekend," she said. "I'm going to get my garden and patio ready for the summer this weekend."

She doesn't plan to go far from her Detroit home to celebrate the holiday, but she still has big plans.

"I'm going to spend it with my family," she said. "We're going to do some grilling and just socialize. That's pretty much going to be my Memorial Day weekend."

On Sunday, the family will gather at a niece's house in the Grosse Pointes for a cookout that will feature ribs, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs and all the fixings, Jackson said.

"After that, we'll continue on with the leftovers," she said. "It's going to be a full weekend."

She said on Monday she'll go to the Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit to put flowers on the graves of her parents, Lucius and Patricia May. Jackson said her father passed away in 2007 and she lost her mother 40 years ago.

"Memorial Day is a good day for reflection, thinking about those you've spent time with and enjoy," Jackson said. "And being grateful for still being here."

Mother Nature could bring Metro Detroiters other issues for the holiday.

After a rainy Thursday due to a low pressure system moving up through the Ohio River Valley, the National Weather Service says more showers are possible this weekend.

High temperatures are forecast to peak in the upper 60s on Friday then reach the 70s Saturday and Sunday, near average for late May.

Metro Detroiters can expect a break from moisture to start the weekend, “but then there’s another low pressure system that will move in and there will be chances for showers Saturday afternoon,” said Deb Elliot, a meteorological technician for the National Weather Service at its White Lake Township office.

Monday calls for sunny skies and highs topping out in the low 70s. Rain isn’t expected again until after 2 p.m. Tuesday, forecasters say.

Lisa Pepin, 48, of Hazel Park, said she heard the rain on Monday will likely hold off until the afternoon, so it won't dampen her plans to attend the city's Memorial Day Parade at 10 a.m.

She said it's been a family tradition to go to the parade since her father, Russell, an Army veteran, used to take her when she was little. Her father has since passed, but Pepin loves the parade.

"I enjoy seeing the veterans," she said. "And I used to be in marching band when I was in high school, so I like to see the bands, too."

After the parade, Pepin said about 20 of her family members will join her at her house for a backyard cookout. On Friday, she stopped at the Kroger store on John R and 9 Mile to pick up some groceries for the barbecue.

"Memorial Day is a pretty big deal in my family," she said. "If the rain doesn't hold off for the barbecue, we'll just move everything inside. That's Plan B."

Extended forecast

Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 71 degrees and a low of about 57 degrees.

Saturday: Partly sunny with a high near 76 degrees and a low of about 60 degrees.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers, a high near 76 and a low of about 57 degrees.

Memorial Day: Partly sunny with a chance of showers, a high near 72 degrees and a low of about 55 degrees.

Tuesday: Partly sunny with a chance of showers and a high near 70 degrees

Roadwork

Friday-Tuesday

I-75:

Oakland – NB/SB I-75, M-59 to Coolidge, two lanes open.

Ramps closed:

-EB M-59 ramp to SB I-75

-EB I-75 Business Loop (Square Lake) ramp to NB I-75

-NB I-75 ramp to WB I-75 Business Loop (Square Lake)

-SB I-75 ramps to/from Adams

Wayne – SB I-75, Springwells to Northline, closed through 2018. Goddard open under I-75.

Detour is WB I-96 to SB I-275.

Ramps closed:

-Dearborn to SB I-75

-Schaefer to SB I-75

-Outer Drive to SB I-75

-Southfield to SB I-75

-Dix to SB I-75

I-75/M-10:

Wayne – Interchange bridge work.

Ramps closed:

-NB I-75 ramp to NB M-10, ramp closed.

-SB I-75 ramp to SB M-10, ramp closed.

-NB I-75 service drive and ramp at M-10 closed

M-5:

Oakland – NB M-5 closed, 12 Mile to Maple. 13 and 14 Mile have one lane open through intersections. NB M-5 open from Maple to Pontiac Trail. SB M-5 is open.

M-59:

Macomb – EB/WB M-59, M-53 to Garfield, 3 lanes open and all intersections open (including Hayes, reopened Wednesday). Current driveway work remains in place with access to all businesses.

Community events that affect the roadways.

M-19:

Macomb – M-19 closed in Memphis, Monday 10 -11 a.m., for parade

M-24:

Oakland – N/SB M-24, Broadway to Ray Road, closed Monday 10 a.m. - noon for event

Dixie Hwy:

Oakland – NB/SB Dixie Highway, Sashabaw to Williams Lake, closed Monday 10 a.m. - noon for event

Grand River:

Oakland – EB/WB Grand River, Shiawassee to Orchard Lake, closed Monday 9 a.m. - noon for event