“We’re getting there:” drivers battle resurgent Memorial Day crowds

A driver fuels-up at Conlee Travel Center in Birch Run Friday
A driver fuels-up at Conlee Travel Center in Birch Run Friday(WJRT)
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 9:58 PM EDT
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BIRCH RUN, Mich. (WJRT) (5/28/2021)--The rubber meets the road as millions return to those Memorial Day traditions.

I-75 spent much of the day jam packed with people making their way from point A to point B. ABC12 staked out a popular pit stop -- Conlee’s in Birch Run – where we got a front row seat to the surge.

Romeo made the drive from South Carolina – braving the gridlock Friday. Making a pit stop to top-off just off 75 in Birch Run, en route to Lupton.

“Man, it’s a lot better,” he related. “It’s nice to see things going back to normal, not having to wear that mask everywhere.”

Traffic slowed to a standstill in spots with the return of that traditional north-bound Memorial Day log jam. Loosening restrictions nationwide prompted millions to again hit the road for a weekend away.

AAA predicted a 60-percent uptick in holiday weekend traffic this year over last. In excess of 37-million drivers were expected to travel 50 miles or more between the 28th and the 31st. Last year, that number touched only 23-million.

“We’re getting there,” Conlee Assistant Manager Marie Lang explained. “Slowly but surely. It feels like July and we aren’t even there yet. This is how busy we get in July so it’s kind of scary to see how busy it is now.”

Cincinnati Nurse Kelsey spent last year on the front lines of the pandemic. Hitting the road this year, she said she was thankful for a chance to reconnect with family.

“We have family that lives up here and then we’re heading to Mackinaw Island for the weekend,” she said.

“Between that and the rain, man,” Romeo remarked on the temperature.

That chill in the air might take some getting used to for Romeo, but it won’t stop him from taking in the sights and sounds of a world on the mend.

“I think a lot of people lost contact with one another real quick when all of that happened,” Romeo said. “It’s good to see people out and about.”

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