Thousands converging on Chicago for Fourth of July weekend

SHARE Thousands converging on Chicago for Fourth of July weekend

If you’re hitting the roads for the holiday, you won’t be lonely—more than 2 million Illinoisans are expected to travel over the long Fourth of July weekend.

Two million alone are expected to drive to their destinations, and about 104,000 will fly between Wednesday and Sunday, according to the holiday travel report from AAA Chicago.

The Illinois Tollway expects 5.9 million vehicles to use the tollway system over the weekend, according to a statement. The heaviest travel was anticipated to be Thursday, with nearly 1.9 million vehicles expected to ride the tollway.

More than 1.6 million passengers are expected to travel through O’Hare and Midway between Thursday and Tuesday, according to a statement form the city Dept. of Aviation.

Monday is projected to be the busiest day at O’Hare, and Sunday the busiest at Midway. Airlines are expecting about a 4 percent increase in passengers compared to 2014.

Altogether, a total of 2.3 million Illinoisans are expected to travel, an increase of .4 percent from 2014, according to the statement.

Nationally, 41.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, the most since 2007 and a 0.7 percent increase from the 41.6 million people who took a July 4 vacation last year.

About 85 percent or 35.5 million of those will drive to their picnics or fireworks displays, while 3.21 million will fly and 3.2 million will move by other means, including cruises, trains and buses, according to AAA.

Helping spur that increase are gas prices, which are down substantially from last year. In Illinois, the current average is $2.94, compared to $3.89 in 2014. Nationally, gas prices are at their lowest in five years at $2.79.

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that all non-emergency roadwork will be suspended for the holiday weekend between 3 p.m. Thursday until 12:01 a.m. Monday.

In Indiana, 1 million people are expected to travel over the weekend, a 1 percent increase from last year.

“Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday … and more Americans are planning a holiday getaway than any year since 2007,” AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher said.

Several events scheduled throughout the holiday weekend across the city are expected to draw thousands.

The city’s annual fireworks show will be at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Navy Pier.

The Grateful Dead will play three concerts at Soldier Field at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. About71,000 fans are expected to converge on the lakefront each day.

And in a rare occurrence, both the Cubs and White Sox are in town over a long holiday weekend.

The weather is expected to be warm and sunny, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday will be mostly sunny with a high around 70 degrees, and the Fourth is expected to be sunny with a high of 75, according to the weather service.

Sunday will be sunny and even warmer, with a high near 80, and while Monday could reach the mid-80s, a chance of showers and thunderstorms will return.

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