Roads to be busy, even without construction, over holiday weekend

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Georgia's roads could be packed this weekend, as people celebrate Labor Day, the traditional end to the summer.

According to AAA Auto Club, about 790,000 Georgians are predicted to take to the roads for a holiday vacation. That is nearly equivalent to the entire Gwinnett population, and a 3 percent increase from last year's travel patterns.

Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for AAA said the number doesn't account for people driving into or through the state to get to their vacation spots.

"There will be some pretty busy roadways," she said.

With gas prices already up 20 cents compared to a week ago, thanks mostly to Hurricane Isaac, Brady said the number could continue to climb through the weekend. But it won't keep people at home, she added.

"If anything, they may be spending less at their destination," she said.

In the meantime, the Georgia Department of Transportation is hoping to give drivers a little bit of break from laboring through the holiday. The department suspended construction-related lane closures this weekend.

But officials said people should still drive with caution, as crews could be working close to highways and emergency lane closures could become necessary at any time. Also some long-term lane closures may stay in place for safety reasons.

"We've averaged nearly 2,000 accidents across our state during recent Labor Day weekends," Georgia DOT district engineer Bayne Smith said. "On average, more than 15 people die and more than 900 are injured on Georgia roads each year during this holiday. It should be a time of rest and festivities dedicated to working men and women, not of tragedy and grief. Please be very careful and do not drive distracted or while impaired."

The suspension lasts from noon Friday until 5 a.m. Tuesday.