The Labor Day weekend for some is about backyard grilling, for others about union solidarity, and for still others a final summer road trip before kids return to school and the temperature starts to drop.
As always, major construction projects and gas prices will be on the minds of those whose weekend starts behind the wheel, but it won’t kill the mood. As long as you don’t get stuck in gridlocked traffic.
Denise Marcero said Wednesday that she plans on driving, just not sitting idled. Her family is headed to Coldwater, Mich., in its camper, a regular trip for her and her husband, along with their kids and grandchildren. They’re pretty lucky on the trip, she said, because they can take Michigan State Rt. 50 to U.S. 12, and avoid major traffic hassles.
“It’s not as bad as the highways,” she said, while stopped at the Speedway on Laplaisance Road in Monroe.
Both the Ohio and Michigan departments of transportation will temporarily move construction barrels from work sites over the holiday weekend to try to help smooth things along, but some obstructions just can’t be moved.
The University Region, which includes southeast and south central Michigan, will have most of its road projects suspended for the weekend, MDOT spokesman Aaron Jenkins said.
“It should be business as usual and actually a little faster because we will be sliding the barrels over,” he said.
Many of the major projects in both states that will impact traffic are along Interstate 75; the Rouge River Bridge is still active, so southbound I-75 south of Detroit remains closed.
Still, any amount of driving can cause stress for some. Sheila Miles said she plans to leave southeast Michigan for rural Illinois on Thursday.
“So I can avoid ...” she said while gripping her steering wheel tightly.
Work on I-75 in Toledo continues, with work between I-475 and Lagrange Street expected to be done by the end of October. The interstate will see even more work after Labor Day, when work begins on the Wooster Street/State Rt. 64 interchange project.
“So the I-75 project is going to be the way it is. You can’t pull barrels back out,” ODOT spokesman Rebecca Dangelo said.
With driving comes, for most, a stop or two at the gas station, and, while prices haven’t skyrocketed, they have crept up.
While Ohio’s average gas price of $2.798 a gallon was below the national average of $2.837, according to AAA, the state also has seen upward price pressure in recent days, with prices increasing about 10 cents a gallon in the past week.
That’s likely a result of continued supply and demand issues in the state, AAA regional spokesman Kara Hitchens said, although prices should start coming down in the fall as companies switch to a cheaper winter blend. Prices likely will push upward throughout the weekend.
“With Labor Day approaching, motorists could see a small swing towards higher gas prices, but any jump should not last past the holiday weekend,” AAA spokesman Jeanette Casselano said in a statement.
Prices in Ohio are up from $2.301 this time last year, in part because of market volatility, Ms. Hitchens said.
Michigan’s average price was $2.906 a gallon, according to AAA.
One way to avoid those costs is to just stay home. Dan Edinger was dwarfed by the RV he was gasing up Wednesday, but it’s not his: He’s a transporter for General RV. He’s staying put for the holiday, since he recently had a house built, and there are plenty of projects to work on.
“Once you have a house, that’s what you do on the weekend,” he said.