PHOTO: Traffic backup on I-95 (copy)

Labor Day, the summer’s swan song for warm-weather revelers, traditionally spurs the lightest traffic of the major holiday breaks.

In fact, auto club AAA doesn’t even forecast the traffic figures for Labor Day anymore.

But there will be more cars on the roads—and planes in the air, as record numbers of flying travelers are expected this year—so don’t plan for typical weekend traffic, which through the Fredericksburg region can be bad enough as is.

The good news is there are ways to help drivers avoid big traffic jams, and gas prices are comparatively low.

Prices at the pump could be at their lowest in three years, AAA said in a news release earlier this week.

The average national price for a gallon of gas was $2.58 as of Tuesday, according to AAA, which would make it the lowest Labor Day price since 2017’s $2.63 per gallon. Last year at this time, the average cost for gas was $2.83.

The average price in Virginia is even better at $2.33, 26 cents less than a year ago and 16 cents less than last month.

“At the start of the week, two-thirds of all states have gas price averages that are nearly a quarter cheaper than last year,” AAA spokeswoman Martha Mitchell Meade said in the release.

As far as the trip, there are ways to avoid the heaviest traffic.

One way to do it is by using the Virginia Department of Transportation’s travel trends map, which uses historical data to indicate when the heaviest traffic might be on the roads this weekend.

While roads are likely to be busiest through Friday, there are several windows when there might be less traffic.

Wednesday and Thursday before 3 p.m. or after 7 p.m. and Friday before noon or after 8 p.m. were the best times to travel last Labor Day, according to the express lanes operator Transurban.

The toll-lane operator said 260,000 vehicles used the express lanes during last year’s holiday period.

Along with more cars on the express lanes, drivers can expect higher tolls this weekend.

VDOT also will suspend most highway work zones and lift most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in the state, from noon Friday through noon Tuesday.

A full list of the lane closures can be found on VDOT’s website.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

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