Light holiday weekend traffic expected by AAA

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily
Memorial Day traffic is expected to be vastly reduced from 2019. In fact, AAA Colorado isn't even offering a forecast for this year's holiday.
Pam Boyd/

The Memorial Day weekend is viewed as the traditional start to the summer travel season. Not this year.

Thanks to the national economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus, light traffic is expected for the holiday weekend.

A Thursday press release from the Colorado Department of Transportation stated that “lower than normal” traffic volume is expected for the holiday weekend.

In 2019, 159,201 vehicles traveled through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels over the three-day weekend. No one know what to expect this year.

“For the first time in 20 years, AAA won’t release a Memorial Day travel forecast,” said Skyler McKinley of Colorado AAA.

McKinley added that 43 million people nationwide traveled over the holiday last year. That was the second-highest number on record.

“This year, we think it’s going to be one of the lowest recorded,” McKinley said. “Folks are staying at home.”

Those sticking close to home are observing the state’s safer-at-home guidelines, have economic concerns or some combination. Besides that, hotels in Eagle County are closed to out-of-town reservations. That won’t change until Monday.

While lodging and activities are limited, McKinley said AAA’s early analysis suggests people who do travel are likely to go within about one tank of gas from home.

Again, though, there isn’t much going on. While area trails are open, Sylvan Lake State Park is open only by reservation.

Many of the state’s seasonal roadways are also opening late. Independence Pass between Leadville and Aspen isn’t expected to open until June 1, about a week later than normal.

While lighter traffic is expected, the Colorado State Patrol is stepping up enforcement on the road.

According to a release sent by Trooper Jacob Best, the agency has launched a project called Target Zero in the Interstate 70 mountain corridor — Eagle, Summit and Garfield counties.

The project includes “zero tolerance for impaired, aggressive or distracted driving,” according to a news release.

The goal, according to the release, is no fatal crashes or crashes with impaired drivers.

While this is shaping up to be a quiet holiday weekend, Vail Valley Partnership President Chris Romer said the state’s gradual reopening seems to favor the Vail Valley in the coming weeks.

Given the valley’s proximity to the Front Range, Romer said, “We’re as well positioned as anybody to take advantage” of relaxed restrictions.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at


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