Kaitlyn Ridel Kaitlyn Ridel
Former Senior Director, Digital Content


May 24, 2019


Memorial Day Weekend should be about remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, celebrating the beginning of summer, and spending some time in the sun with loved ones.

Instead, for many the weekend will be dominated by a slow, painful (and bumpy) asphalt odyssey, too often defined by one question: Are we there yet?

Of the nearly 43 million Americans traveling this Memorial Day weekend, 37.6 million will be taking road trips, the most ever on recordaccording to AAA. As more than 10% of the U.S. population hits the road, destinations may seem much farther than usual.

Memorial Day Travel Forecast AAA

Experts are predicting increased traffic congestion this year, with major metro areas likely to see normal drive times double. Travelers in the Washington and New York areas will get hit hardest, with travel times tripling during peak times, according to estimates by global transportation analytics company INRIX.

Sure, that’s partly because you have a lot of folks all trying to make their way to the same sandy beaches or lake shores at the same time. But that’s not the only reason you’ll be spending more time behind the wheel and less time beside the water this weekend.

Our nation’s failing infrastructure — from pothole-pocketed roads to crumbling highways — is another big reason we’ll spend more time behind the wheel and less time beside the water this weekend.

It’s no surprise, either. Our federal lawmakers simply haven’t invested enough in maintaining, repairing, and modernizing our country’s infrastructure (including but not limited to roads, bridges, highways and transit systems). As a result, America’s infrastructure most recently earned a D+ rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

There’s broad, bipartisan agreement that this problem can’t wait any longer and more investment is urgently needed. Question is, how do we pay for it?

Why not ask all those drivers who will be suffering out on the interstates this weekend? Someone did.

Turns out, a majority (60%) of travelers say traffic congestion as a bigger deterrent to car travel than a 25-cent increase in the federal gas tax, a recent U.S. Travel Association (USTA) survey found. Moreover, 80% say raising the gas tax would have no effect on how often they traveled by car.

Democrats and Republicans in state legislatures have come together to raise their state gas taxes to help pay their share of urgently needed infrastructure investments. Business and labor groups have rallied around the very same solution. And now, drivers say they’re for raising the gas tax, too, if it will help alleviate all that bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The solution for fixing and funding our infrastructure is there. The recognition from elected officials that this is a priority is there.

What’s needed are policymakers in Washington turning their speeches into action in order to make travel — whether it’s commuting to work or hauling the family to the beach — easier, safer, and faster.

As we head out on the road this Memorial Day weekend, it is important that Americans have the infrastructure in place to travel safely and efficiently – allowing them to spend less time in traffic and more time in the sun with friends and family.

About the authors

Kaitlyn Ridel

Kaitlyn Ridel

Kaitlyn Ridel is the former Senior Director of Digital Content at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.