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Labor Day weekend: What to know for traffic and weather on Long Island

The eastbound Long Island Expressway in Suffolk County

The eastbound Long Island Expressway in Suffolk County on September 3, 2015. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

After days of wilting heat, Long Islanders will have a relatively mild Labor Day weekend.

Temperatures that felt like 100 degrees or more this week will drop, hitting a high in the 70s Saturday and Sunday, News 12 Long Island meteorologist Rich Hoffman said. There is a chance of showers Saturday and Sunday, with thunderstorms possible Sunday. But Monday, the holiday, should be sunny and dry with the temperature inching back up to the mid-80s, Hoffman said.

For those leaving home, all lane closures for road and bridge construction on state highways will be suspended from 6 a.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Tuesday to accommodate travelers, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday. Some work behind concrete barriers or for emergency repairs may continue, he said.

"For many New Yorkers, Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer, and we are committed to helping ensure safe, convenient travel during the busy holiday weekend," Cuomo said.

Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh should not be too crowded, said George Gorman, Long Island regional deputy director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

"The forecast is iffy for Saturday and Sunday," Gorman said. "Monday is looking good, so we’re expecting a normal Labor Day weekend crowd — not overwhelming, but a nice crowd."

Throughout the summer, state park traffic slowed down for high heat and storms.

"When we had really nice weather, parks were at or near capacity. When the weather changed, parks were like ghost towns," Gorman said. "It’s feast or famine."

The AAA no longer projects how people will travel on Labor Day weekend — the automobile association halted the survey in 2016 as a cost-saving measure. In its final Labor Day survey in 2015, 35 million people were projected to take a trip of more than 50 miles.

Most holiday travel is by motor vehicle, and drivers are paying a national average of $2.83 a gallon, down from a peak of $2.97 in May, AAA said. Locally, the price of gasoline peaked at $3.12 a gallon on Long Island in early June, the auto club said.

More than 7 million people are expected to travel through the Port Authority's facilities by car, rail and air this weekend. The authority anticipates about 4.1 million vehicles will cross its bridges and tunnels from Thursday to Tuesday, and it warned drivers to leave plenty of time for travel.

The Port Authority estimated that 2.2 million passengers will use its regional airports from Thursday to Tuesday, 2.6 percent more than the 2017 holiday weekend.

The agency said travelers going to LaGuardia Airport should consider using mass transit because renovation at the Queens airport has created an on-site parking shortage and congestion on roadways leading to the terminals.

The Q70 bus linking LaGuardia with some LIRR stops and subway stations in Queens will be free from Friday morning to Monday night, the Port Authority said.

The Long Island Rail Road said it was expecting riders to take an early getaway Friday afternoon from New York City and was adding nine eastbound trains: four on the Babylon Branch, three on the Port Washington Branch and one each on the Ronkonkoma and Far Rockaway branches.

The airline industry said it expects an increase in passengers during the weeklong Labor Day travel period it measures, compared with the same period last year. About 16.5 million passengers are expected to fly worldwide, up 3.5 percent from the 16 million who flew during last year’s holiday period, the industry group Airlines for America said.

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