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Published: Friday, 9/4/2009

Travel on Labor Day weekend to outpace July 4, dip from '08

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Vehicles travel on the Ohio Turnpike near Maumee yesterday. AAA predicts 39.1 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home this weekend. That would be 6 million fewer than last year, which was the busiest Labor Day for travel this decade. Vehicles travel on the Ohio Turnpike near Maumee yesterday. AAA predicts 39.1 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home this weekend. That would be 6 million fewer than last year, which was the busiest Labor Day for travel this decade.
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With Labor Day falling as late as possible on the calendar, holiday travel is expected to decline significantly compared with last year, according to AAA, which predicts this weekend will be busier for travelers than July 4 was.

A year ago Labor Day fell on Sept. 1, “allowing for a long-weekend trip before a new school year started in many regions of the country,” the auto club noted.

This year's Sept. 7 holiday means many schools have opened in a much greater portion of the United States.

“I'll just be staying at the house, barbecuing,” Devon Cumberland, of Toledo, said while filling up at Sylvania Avenue and Talmadge Road. “It's not really a big holiday.”

Kristen Horner has usually worked on Labor Day, so holiday trips were out of the question in past years.

But even though she has this Monday off, the Sylvania woman is planning to stay close to home.

“I don't know what I'm going to do,” she said yesterday while fueling her car at Monroe Street filling station. “Grandma usually has a cookout, so I'll probably be with my family.”

The auto club's nationwide travel survey predicted 39.1 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home this weekend, 6 million fewer than last year, which was the busiest Labor Day for travel this decade.

Air travel, however, is expected to hit a decade-long low, with an ever-increasing number of travelers driving instead.

Those who do head out from northwest Ohio should expect gasoline prices ranging from the low $2.30s to the high $2.50s for self-service, unleaded regular in the Toledo area, with a slightly higher range in southeast Michigan.

The toledogasprices.com Web site reported a local average of $2.443 per gallon for regular yesterday, which was relatively unchanged within the past month but more than a dollar cheaper than the average from Sept. 3, 2008 — a time when prices were declining but still high following $4-plus price records during the summer.

Local prices are about 15 cents per gallon cheaper than they were just before Independence Day.

Road construction delays should be relatively mild, with both the Michigan and Ohio transportation departments suspending work where possible to avoid congestion.

Terry Wrest, of Sylvania, said he expects to spend most of this weekend on the water, in his sailboat on Lake Erie.

“I'll spend a few cents getting out there, then I shut that engine down and spend nothing,” Mr. Wrest said.

At a time when petroleum conservation is considered ecologically “green,” sailing is “dark green,” he said.

So why was he filling up a jerrycan with gasoline along with refueling his van? Mr. Wrest explained that his grandchildren needed the gasoline for dirt biking.

Toledo-area weather for barbecuing, sailing, or riding dirt bikes should be seasonably good for most of the weekend, forecasters said yesterday.

The National Weather Service yesterday predicted sunny skies with highs near 80 and nighttime lows in the 50s for the next four days.

Accuweather.com offered a similar daytime forecasts but predicted tomorrow's morning low would be much cooler, possibly threatening the Sept. 5 record of 42 degrees, set in 1974.

Contact David Patch at:dpatch@theblade.comor 419-724-6094.



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