CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Predictions of increased travel during the Memorial Day Weekend were realized on the West Virginia Turnpike.
West Virginia Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr said toll transactions from Thursday through Monday were up five percent when compared to the 2014 Memorial Day travel period. Barr said a total of 588,739 transactions were made with Friday being the busiest day at 154,293 transactions. Barr said what happened last weekend is similar to the last several months.
“We’ve actually experienced, since the first of the year, about a five percent increase in transactions over the same period from last year. This five-day Memorial period somewhat mirrors what we’ve been seeing,” Barr said.
Lower gasoline prices have a lot to do with the increase according to Barr.
“When you’re paying a dollar more per gallon (last year) that’s costing you an extra dollar to go 20 miles on a trip—that starts to add up,” he said. “I like to use the toll transactions as a little indication of how the economy is doing. To me that shows signs that things are picking up.”
The most recent increase in traffic on the 88-mile toll road has included an increase in passenger vehicles, something that hasn’t happened in a few years.
“In the past the trucks have always kind of maintained but the cars have dropped off when gas prices go up. Now the cars are leading the surge,” Barr said.
The 4th of July falls on a Saturday this year which could also mean a busy few days for the Turnpike.
“When the 4th falls close to the weekend that could be tied to the previous week or the following week for a (vacation) break,” Barr said.