NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Friday kicks off the unofficial start to the summer, and many places are already noticing heavier traffic.
“It definitely has picked up,” said a visitor from Winston Salem. “We got here on Tuesday, and it wasn’t super busy. But this morning, kind of noticed more and more people coming in.”
Travelers and beach regulars alike encountered some stand still traffic Friday afternoon.
“Coming back, if I’m hitting the bridge, it’s usually about like a 20 minute wait. (This is) longer,” said one man waiting for the bridge to go back down. “Line is stretching a lot longer back. A lot more traffic for Memorial Day.”
Another woman sitting in stand still traffic said it usually takes 15 minutes to get to beach. She knew it would be longer this weekend. “Probably at least 25, and we’re not there yet.”
While gas prices are up, AAA says more than 37 million Americans plan to travel Memorial Day Weekend. They predict 1.2 million North Carolinians will do the same, one million driving.
And with more people, Lieutenant Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says it’s more important than ever to pack your patience when you hit the road.
”It’s a busy weekend,” said Brewer. “A lot of people are coming to the area. We want to make sure everyone drives safely so have patience. Be careful. That applies on the water as well. We’ll have our marine unit out there, but a lot of boats, a lot of people swimming, be mindful. And of all things do not use alcohol or drugs.”
With a holiday weekend coming right after the lifted mask mandate, Brewer says it’s likely some people will want to have a drink or two. He and law enforcement encourage those who do to bring a designated driver or to have a backup plan if you can’t drive.
“Be smart. In today’s time, it is so much easier to get an Uber, get a taxi ride, get a friend to come and get you than it is to try and drive while under the influence.”