MoDOT prepares for heavy weekend traffic

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation was preparing Friday for a weekend of heavy travel.

AAA predicted the 2017 Memorial Day weekend would be the heaviest-traveled in the U.S. since 2005. It said 39.3 million Americans would travel during the weekend.

Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing, said in a news release, “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

Any roadwork on Missouri roads was scheduled to stop at noon on Friday through Tuesday morning, according to MoDOT.

Linda Wilson Horn, communications coordinator for MoDOT, said, "It is very important for us that, you know, we make sure that we're off the road, number one, but that, you know, we're prepared in case there's any kind of emergencies over the weekend."

MoDOT planned to closely monitor forecasts of severe weather.

"All modes of severe weather are possible Saturday afternoon through the evening," said Kenton Gewecke, Live Doppler 8 First Alert Weather meteorologist. "Areas south of I-70 do have a greater risk for stronger storms: Large hail, damaging winds, cloud-to-ground lightning, heavy downpours and a few tornadoes possible."

David Silvesder, central district engineer for MoDOT said, "If that's the case, we'll have folks that are ready."

MoDOT also reminded travelers to be mindful of road safety when the roads are congested. 

"Don't drink and drive, you know, keep a safe distance when you're traveling, don't text and drive," Silvesder said.

"The highway patrol does do a seatbelt campaign over memorial weekend," Wilson Horn said. "Please buckle up. And distracted driving is the number one cause of crashes, and every year we do have crashes in Missouri with fatalities on memorial weekend. So, please don't drive distracted. Put your phone down. Don't eat while you're driving, fiddle with the radio."

"Be cautious when you're out driving this weekend," Silvesder said. "Pay attention to the signs if there are construction signs up, uh, but for the most part, most of the work zones should be shut down."

MoDOT's Traveler Information Map highlights live traffic across the state, including crashes and work zones.

Travelers can also call 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636) with questions.