High gas prices were among the reasons Maine saw July 4 traffic similar to last year’s levels despite near-perfect weather this year and rain then.
Car travel was up a few percentage points in southern Maine, including at the border with New Hampshire, but dropped slightly compared with the holiday weekend last year in other coastal areas that thrive on tourism, new state data show.
The Maine Department of Transportation, which measures the volume of vehicles at more than 80 points across the state, found that aggregate traffic between Friday and Monday was up 0.3 percent compared with 2021. There were some small differences at various points measured throughout the state.
Traffic at the Maine-New Hampshire border was up 3.7 percent, and York County, a popular spot for out-of-state visitors, saw increased car volumes at all points measured. But Portland along with much of the rest of the coast — including popular tourist spots at Boothbay and Mount Desert Island — saw a slight decline in traffic compared with last year.
On the Maine Turnpike, tolls collected over the weekend indicate overall traffic was down about 1 percent compared with last year, said Rebecca Grover, a spokesperson for the Maine Turnpike Authority.
July 4 travel last year rebounded significantly compared with 2020, when Maine was in the height of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but it was weighed down by rainy weather. This year had better weather but also higher gas prices, Grover noted.
“People are out and about traveling more, but I think gas prices probably held some people back,” she said.
Gas prices in Maine have ticked down slightly in the past month due to falling global oil prices, but remain far higher than a year ago. In Maine, the average price for a regular gallon of gas dropped to $4.93 on Tuesday, down from a high of $5.09 in mid-June, according to AAA data from AAA. It was still far higher than the price of $3.09 a year ago.