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AAA: Memorial Day busiest travel weekend since 2005

FARGO - A travel federation predicts this Memorial Day will be the busiest in almost 10 years, according to a release.

AAA Travel estimated approximately 36.1 Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the Memorial Day weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from last year.

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“Steady economic growth combined with a long, cold winter has given many Americans the travel bug,” said Gene LaDoucer, a spokesman for AAA in North Dakota. “For families in the upper Midwest, lower fuel costs compare to record-high averages of a year ago should also help boost numbers to a new post-recession high.”

The forecasts is 2.6 percent higher than the 10-year historical average and the second highest since 2000. Travelers set the record in 2005.

AAA defines the Memorial Day weekend as May 22-26. Approximately 88 percent are expected to travel by automobile.

In related news, gas prices should stay below the $4 mark nationwide, and motorists in North Dakota should see prices much lower than that, according to AAA. Regular fuel across the state averaged $3.57 as of Friday, more than 30 cents less than last year.

Drivers in North Dakota paid almost $4 in May 2013, but then saw that price drop to almost $3 in December. The price has risen steadily since but is still below the national average of $3.65.

“Overall it is unlikely gas prices will have a significant effect on the national forecast numbers to last year,” LaDoucer said.

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.