Aug. 29–Good news on two fronts for Northeast Florida drivers planning to take that last summer fling this Labor Day weekend.
Well, maybe three fronts, as in storm front.
First, so far there are no major storms or a hurricane to watch out for while on the road, at least through Sunday, with a 40 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms locally, according to the National Weather Service.
Second, gas prices seem to be dropping, according to AAA. State gas price averages declined as much as 4 cents while the national gas price average held steady at $2.84, about 2 cents cheaper than a month ago.
“With Labor Day approaching, motorists could see a small swing toward higher gas prices, but any jump should not last past the holiday weekend,” AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano said.
The bad news is that this year’s gas prices are about 48 cents more than a year ago, with 2017’s Labor Day weekend seeing gas prices spike due to Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane shut down refineries and pipelines, driving gas prices toward their highest point of 2017 ($2.67), AAA said. Despite no hurricane activity this weekend, gas prices will be at their highest point for the holiday since 2014.
Then if drivers get into trouble on the road, the Florida Department of Transportation just expanded its 8-year-old Road Ranger program in Northeast Florida on Interstate 10 after launching it recently on Interstate 75.
The I-10 Road Ranger service area officially expanded Monday between U.S. 301 (Exit 343) in Duval County and U.S. 41 (Exit 301) in Columbia County, available from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The second phase, set to start Sept. 17, expands the service all the way to Florida 53 (Exit 258) in Madison County.
Road Ranger provides free highway support services for motorists and has helped about 4.3 million people stranded with broken-down vehicles since 2000. Motorists can request Road Ranger service by dialing *347 (*FHP).
Finally, for folks who are not going out of town this holiday weekend and totally, absolutely want to avoid any traffic, stay clear of the downtown Jacksonville sports and entertainment district around TIAA Bank Field.
First of all Monster Jam Triple Threat roars into the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena at 300 A. Philip Randolph Blvd. with two Saturday shows, one at 1 p.m., the next at 7 p.m. A pit party to show off the eight 1,500-hp monster trucks competing starts at 10:30 a.m. Monster jams, usually held at TIAA Bank Field, normally fill the house. So with 15,000-seat capacity, expect heavy traffic around the arena all day long as fans come, then go, then come again for the two shows.
Then at 3 p.m. Sunday, the “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour” comes to TIAA Bank Field at One EverBank Field Drive with Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Charlie Daniels Band, Blackberry Smoke and the Marshall Tucker Band. That means an estimated 70,000-plus fans converging on the football stadium and all of its parking lots, with expected one-way traffic in and out as is done during football games.
Police will be handling the traffic flow, so watch for officers and keep an eye on twitter.com/JSOPIO for traffic updates.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549
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