This Labor Day weekend will be the busiest on the roads and in the skies in five years, thanks to many people having a little more money in their pockets, travel officials said.
Transportation providers, anticipating a busier-than-usual weekend, are aiming to help travelers get around with more trains and safety patrols.
The New York Auto Club estimates that 34.1 million Americans will travel on the holiday weekend -- a 4.3 percent increase over last year and the most since the economic collapse in 2008.
"It's kind of reflective of how important the economy is for people to go out and travel," auto club spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr. said. "Their house is worth a little bit more . . . Maybe their 401K is going up. It gives them a little more confidence and maybe a few extra pennies in their pocket to go take the trip."
About 85 percent of travelers will make their trips by car. Weekend air travel is expected to increase from last year by 3 percent, Sinclair said.
To help clear the way for Labor Day road warriors, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Thursday the suspension of most construction projects on state roads for the weekend.
Nassau and Suffolk police plan to boost enforcement against drunken and aggressive drivers. Suffolk police Chief Stuart Cameron said increased patrols will be in place at shopping centers because of Labor Day sale crowds, and enforcement of boating safety will be stepped up.
"The Labor Day holiday weekend is a time when millions of travelers are taking one final summer getaway, and each year it is one of our state's busiest travel periods," Cuomo said in a statement, adding that he encouraged New Yorkers to do just that, to "get out and enjoy a smooth trip to one of New York State's great destinations."To help Long Islanders get an early start on their holiday weekend, the Long Island Rail Road plans to add nine eastbound trains out of Penn Station beginning just after 2 p.m. Friday. They include three trains each on the Port Jefferson and Babylon branches, one each on the Port Washington and Far Rockaway branches and one train to Jamaica for a connection to Montauk.
LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said the weekend would cap off a busy summer on the rails, which saw a 138 percent increase in ridership over last year for its Hamptons Reserve service. "And it's shaping up -- assuming the weather cooperates -- as a big Labor Day weekend, too," Arena said. "We're ready with a full holiday weekend schedule."
Weather for the traditional end-of-summer weekend will be a mixed bag on Long Island, according to the National Weather Service. The agency predicts sunny skies and high temperatures in the upper-70s and low-80s Friday and Saturday. But rain could arrive as early as Saturday night, and continue through Monday, with thunderstorms likely on Monday night.