Memorial Day travel guide: Metro, traffic, heat, and gas prices

The Memorial Day weekend will bring steamy temperatures and crowded roads. Some people have already fueled up and headed out, but if you think staying home will help avoid the hassle – think again.

As many travelers hit the roads, people in the District will have to battle traffic nightmares of their own. AAA predicts more people will be driving than flying out of town this weekend.

Drivers will be happy to hear that gas prices are starting to drop. The national average is now $3.81. Maryland's average is slightly higher, Virginia's is actually lower, only the District is still above $4.

“Gas prices are down 12 cents in the last week or so,” said AAA’s John Townsend.

Still, prices at the pump are a good buck a gallon higher than a year ago. Some people are still heading to the beach or other destinations, but plan on spending less when they get there. Billy Mitchell is traveling on a two-wheel vehicle to save money this year.
“I bought this and it gets 40 miles to the gallon and my truck got nine,” he said.

Dave Garvey will still hit the water but just won’t spend as much time tooling around in his boat as he used to. “It is just too costly,” he said.

Metro closes four stations

People leaving town will deal with sizzling heat and high gas prices, but those staying here will also have to put up with a section of Metro’s Blue, Red and Orange Lines shutting down for{ }repair work.

Starting Friday night, from 10 p.m. until Monday, there will be no train service between the Federal Center SW Metro station and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road stations. That means the Capitol South, Eastern Market, Potomac Avenue, and Stadium Armory stations will all be closed.

Metro is encouraging riders to use alternate ways to get around this weekend. Free shuttle buses will replace Blue and Orange line trains and officials say customers using the bus service should anticipate 40 minutes extra travel time to their destinations.

Metro says the planned improvements include upgrading cell phone access at the four stations that will be closed.

D.C. gets ready for hot, sunny Memorial Day weekend

The heat is arriving just in time for the holiday weekend with temperatures that topped 90 degrees for the first time this year on Thursday. Sounds like a perfect time to flee the city – if you didn’t have to get through traffic first.

The sizzling temperatures have a lot of people yearning for sun, sand and surf. “Ocean city and just the cool breeze,” is what Amalia Cepero looks forward to.

She didn't think she would head out of town, but with the sweltering heat that just arrived in D.C., Cepero is warming up to the idea of travel.

“This is just hot, if i could walk down the street in a bikini I would,” she said.

Regular routes to the beach are already getting hit with early departures Thursday evening. Otto Cruz was one of those lucky enough to get out of town before the rush. “I am going to the beach and have a nice barbeque and enjoy it,” Cruz said.

However, high gas prices soured some weekend travel plans. “Because the prices the gas prices are just too high right now I just can't afford it,” said Shawnetta Simon of Laurel.

Katy Johnston plans to make the most of the heat this weekend, even though she is staying, “hopefully next to a pool with a cool beverage in my hand.”

Those drivers leaving tonight and early tomorrow likely will make it without getting caught in traffic. If you are planning to leave Friday after work, a very hot Memorial Day weekend could get motorists steamed.