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Millions of Illinois residents ready to travel over Memorial Day weekend

About 1.8 million Illinois residents plan to travel over the holiday weekend, most of them by car.

Traffic on the Kennedy Expressway
AAA expects the number of people traveling by car this weekend to be up by nearly 60% over last year.
Getty Images

Most travelers will set out on the roads the Memorial Day weekend but airports will be much busier than last year.

“For many people, this will be their first summer vacation in two years, and things will look a little different,” Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA–The Auto Club Group, said in a news release.

“Because of the pandemic, many theme parks and hotels are running at reduced capacity, and some services are not currently available. Cruise lines are also accepting bookings, but their policies may vary based on whether you’re vaccinated.”

About 1.7 million Illinois residents plan to get behind the wheel over the holiday weekend. That’s a 57% increase from last year when less than 1.1 million residents traveled because of the coronavirus pandemic, AAA said.

The worst time to be on the roads in the Chicago area will be between 2:45 and 4:45 p.m. Thursday because of heightened afternoon congestion. AAA said the Eisenhower Expressway west from Morgan Street to Wolf Road will be “the worst corridor” to use.

Chicago’s airports are also anticipating thousands of travelers this weekend.

While not up to 2019 levels, O’Hare Airport expects 827,000 passengers to pass through between Thursday and Tuesday — an increase of 565% over the same period last year, based on airline carrier projections.

Midway Airport expects to see 224,000 passengers over the weekend, an increase of 433% from the previous year, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

“We are anticipating the increases during this Memorial Day travel period and upcoming summer months, and we remind everyone that although COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed in some settings, Chicago’s airports still require face coverings,” Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said in a news release.