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Memorial Day weekend is almost here. Volunteers will begin planting over 37,000 flags on Boston Common today, representing every one of the Massachusetts service members who have lost their life since the Revolutionary War. Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund co-founder Tom Crohan tells WBUR’s Dan Guzman it’s “impossible to walk by the sea of flags without stopping, pausing and reflecting.”
“Every single one of these flags was a person,” Crohan said.
It’s a reminder that Memorial Day isn’t all about cookouts and Cape traffic. However, we do need to talk about that traffic.
The onset of the holiday weekend marks the unofficial beginning of what’s expected to be a busy summer travel season. So brace yourself for a lot of red lights on the roads over the next couple days.
- Zoom in: AAA expects Massachusetts to crack over 1 million Memorial Day weekend travelers, a 7% increase from last year. And roughly 917,000 of them are projected to be in cars. As a result, AAA says the Boston area could see travel times double.
- Zoom out: Nationwide, AAA projects 42.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home — rebounding to just shy of pre-pandemic levels (42.8 million in 2019).
- The worst time to drive: Perhaps unsurprisingly, tomorrow — particularly the afternoon — will see the most congestion, according to the transportation analytics company INRIX.
- The best time to drive: Try to schedule your departure tomorrow morning or after 6 p.m. Or if you’re not in a rush, INRIX suggests driving on Saturday or Sunday, when traffic will be lightest.
- The good news: Gas prices are way lower now than they were last Memorial Day. The average price in Massachusetts is $3.47 a gallon, compared to $4.73 a gallon in 2022.
- Heads up: Traffic is already pretty rough on I-93 south this morning, thanks to a truck crash on the Zakim Bridge.
Up in the air: Logan airport is also preparing for a busy weekend. AAA expects 81,000 people in Massachusetts to fly, a 10% jump from last year, despite more expensive airline prices. After widespread flight delays and cancellations last year, consumer advocates worry air travelers could face similar disruptions this summer.
I’m the map, I’m the map: The Boston City Council passed a new redistricting map yesterday, after a judge blocked their first attempt earlier this month. WBUR’s Walter Wuthmann reports that the new map was approved on a 10-2 vote, despite a brutal political process marked by personal insults and animosity.
- See it: Click here for a photo of the new map, plus details on the key changes to district boundaries.
- What’s next: The map needs approval from Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who told Radio Boston earlier this week that she thought the Council was “headed in the right direction.”
- What it means: Since the Council met Wu’s deadline, Boston should be able to avoid any major impacts to the Sept. 12 preliminary elections.
Boston school officials are moving forward with controversial plans to merge some of its elementary schools. School committee members voted last night to merge Dorchester’s Shaw and Mattapan’s Taylor schools in September 2024, as well as the Sumner and Philbrick schools in Roslindale in September 2025.
- Why? Superintendent Mary Skipper says the mergers will address falling enrollment and free up more money to be spent on education, according to The Boston Globe.
- What’s next: The Globe reports that BPS officials have hinted these four schools are the first of many other closures. A long-term plan is due out by the end of this year.
Start spreading the news: Amtrak is adding two daily trains from Springfield to New York, beginning June 5. Rep. Richard Neal says it’s a “major development” for the western Massachusetts economy.
- The $23 trains — both of which leave early in the morning — take roughly three and a half hours to get to the city. There are also return trips in the evening. MassLive has more details here.
P.S.— Memorial Day weekend also means the return of Boston Calling, now a decade old. Take a look back on 10 years of photos of the music festival and how it has evolved since that rainy, chilly first weekend in 2013 at Boston City Hall Plaza.