AAA Northeast projects nearly 43 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend, with close to 1.1 million of those travelers being from Massachusetts. This represents the highest Fourth of July travel volume on record and five million more travelers compared to Memorial Day weekend. The holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
“Spurred by the lowest gas prices since 2005, more people than ever are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs at AAA Northeast. “Whether they’re traveling by car, plane, train, or cruise ship, it will be exciting to see so many Americans celebrating our nation’s freedom with their friends and family over the long holiday weekend.”
U.S. drivers have saved about $20 billion on gasoline so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, which has made travel more affordable than in recent years. A more confident consumer and rising economic activity also are offsetting a cooling labor market to help boost holiday travel.
“2016 could be a record-breaking year for summertime travel,” continued Maguire. “This trend is welcome news for the travel industry and a sign that Americans are taking to our nation’s highways and skies like never before.”
Low gas prices driving increase in auto travel this Independence Day
Eighty-seven percent of holiday travelers in Massachusetts (84.6% nationally) will drive to their Independence Day destinations. Air travel is expected to increase 2.2 percent over last year in Massachusetts. Nationally, travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase two percent to 3.3 million travelers. Most of those travelers are expected to fill cruise cabins and AAA’s holiday cruise bookings are 35 percent higher than last Independence Day.
Drivers to pay lowest Independence Day gas prices in more than a decade
Low gas prices are motivating millions of Americans to travel this Independence Day. Despite recent seasonal increases, gasoline prices remain well below recent years. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.31, which is 47 cents less than one year ago. AAA Northeast expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices since 2005.
Airfares and hotel rates lower than last Independence Day
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be nine percent less this Independence Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $207. Hotel costs have fallen slightly compared to last Independence Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $185, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $144 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $75, six percent more than last year.
More than 370,000 Independence Day motorists to request roadside assistance
AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists nationally during the Independence Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA Northeast recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Download the AAA Mobile app before an Independence Day getaway
Before setting out for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 61 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.
MassDOT Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney announces applications for the 2016 Low Number Plate Lottery are being accepted online or by U.S. mail.
Starting this year, for the first time ever, customers will be able to enter the lottery online by visiting: https://secure.rmv.state.ma.us/myPlateLotto/. Mail-in applications are available for download at www.MassRMV.com, or at Registry branch office locations across the Commonwealth. Applications must be received online or postmarked by August 26, 2016, in order for the applicant to be eligible.
“The low plate lottery is our customers’ favorite time of the year at the RMV,” said Registrar Erin Deveney. “We are excited to have streamlined our application process this year to allow for online submissions, making it easier for our customers to enter the lottery. Not only can our customers skip the line by doing over 23 transactions at www.MassRMV.com, now they can also skip the stamp and enter the lottery electronically.”
This year, there are 183 plates that are part of the low plate lottery, surpassing the large pool of plates offered in 2015. Annually, approximately 6,800 applications are received. With the addition of the new online entry form, an increase of applications is expected for 2016. Applicants for the low number lottery should note that there is no fee to apply, however, should the applicant be selected as a winner, there is a fee to receive the license plate and there is a standard registration fee.
Available low plate numbers for this year’s lottery include 1H, 7J41Z, Q49, X77, 1972, and 2007.
Low number plates must be renewed every two years.
Customers are encouraged to visit the RMV?s website for details of the drawing, date, time and location of the event. By law, all winners must be announced by September 15, 2016, and the names of winners will be posted to the Registry website.
The RMV reminds customers that more than 23 Registry services are available online: www.MassRMV.com. Customers can visit the website for the latest news and also follow the RMV on Twitter @MassRMV.
By SCOTT JACKSON
Quincy police arrested a 25-year-old homeless man and charged him with trafficking cocaine and fentanyl Wednesday.
Nyhad Jaber was arrested Wednesday afternoon in the rear of the Walgreen’s store at 418 Quincy Ave., police said Thursday. Jaber is facing charges of trafficking cocaine (over 36 grams), trafficking fentanyl, possession of a class A substance (heroin) with the intent to distribute (subsequent offense), distribution of a class B substance (subsequent offense), possession of a class D substance with intent to distribute (subsequent offense), knowingly resisting arrest, disorderly person, and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon (spring loaded knives).
Police said they also seized $473 in cash and seven cellphones.
Members of the Quincy Police Department’s drug control unit were conducting surveillance in Quincy Point Wednesday because of recent drug complaints and arrests, police said. Around 4:45, the detectives’ attention was drawn to the occupants of a vehicle parked in the Walgreen’s parking lot, and they began surveilling it.
While doing so, police said the detectives observed actions consistent with a drug transaction between one of the vehicle’s occupants and the suspect; those actions occurred in the area of Falls Boulevard.
Detectives encountered Jaber back at Walgreens, once he and the occupants of the vehicle had separated, police said, and placed him under arrest following an investigation.
Jaber was to be arraigned Thursday in Quincy District Court.
By SCOTT JACKSON
More than three weeks after state officials issued a stop work order, asbestos abatement at the former Star of the Sea Church in Squantum has yet to resume.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued the stop work order June 1, following an inspector’s visit to the Bellevue Road site. The company doing the asbestos removal is required to submit a revised plan before the DEP will lift the stop work order, but spokesman Joseph Ferson on Thursday said the state agency was “still waiting to hear back from the contractor.”
Ferson said a properly licensed company had been hired to remove the asbestos from the site, but the work was not done in compliance with state regulations.
The asbestos abatement is required before the church and rectory building on site can be demolished. Victor Sheen, owner of the Bellevue Road site, plans on dividing the parcel into four lots on which single-family homes can later be built.
Sheen, the founder of Brookline-based Oakgrove Residential, purchased the 37,200 square foot parcel at 101-105 Bellevue Road from the Archdiocese of Boston in June 2015 for $600,000. He had initially planned to renovate the church and rectory and convert the buildings into a total of 14 condominium units, but moved ahead with the plan to raze the buildings and split the land into four parcels after neighbors objected to the original proposal.
The site is in a Residential A zoning district, which allows Sheen to divide the larger parcel into four smaller lots for single-family homes by-right.
The Star of the Sea Church was among 50 area parishes the Archdiocese of Boston designated for closure in 2004. A group of parishioners, the Friends of Star of the Sea, appealed that decision all the way to the Vatican but ultimately lost. The archdiocese relegated the church to profane use in July 2011, meaning it was no longer considered a site for worship.