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Memorial Day Weekend travel: Traffic predictions, when to travel, JFK renovation

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With Memorial Day weekend approaching, bringing with it the unofficial start of summer, millions of New Yorkers and travelers nationwide are expected to hit the roads and take to the skies.

Though traffic is rarely ever easy to navigate in the five boroughs, certain travel times are expected to be worse than others.

The worst times to hit the road will be from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday and noon to 7 p.m. on Friday, according to the American Automotive Association. Drivers looking to avoid the crunch of cars should leave before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on those days.

However, the absolute worst time and place to travel will be at 11:45 a.m. Thursday on I-87 north to Albany, AAA said. That trip will take 64% longer than usual, according to estimates.

“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal. Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at data firm INRIX.

Drivers returning home on Sunday should leave before 1 p.m., and anyone coming back Monday should depart after 7 p.m. to avoid heavy traffic, which expected to peak between 3-7 p.m. both days, according to AAA.

While 2.5 million of the estimated 2.8 million traveling New Yorkers are expected to drive to their destinations, according to nationwide auto club, a significant amount of people will also be flying. Those flying out of JFK should expect delays and give themselves extra time due to the ongoing construction project at the airport.

The MTA boasts it is the “best way to travel on Memorial Day Weekend.” Thursday will mark the reintroduction of the popular “Cannonball” Long Island Rail Road train, which departs Penn Station at 4:07 p.m. and runs express to Westhampton before stopping at Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Montauk.

The Cannonball will run every Thursday and Friday all summer. The returning westbound Cannonball will normally run on Sundays but will depart on Monday this weekend.

However, any New Yorkers staying in the city over the weekend shouldn’t expect any special treatment. The MTA is still planning several subway closures and service changes during the three-day weekend. Service for portions of the 2, 3, E, F, J and L trains will be suspended during the holiday. Trains will run on a Sunday schedule on Memorial Day.

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