Maine Turnpike Authority workers at the York toll booths on Monday will hand out about 25,000 copies of the Farmers’ Almanac to travelers as part of a Labor Day tradition designed to promote tourism.

The Turnpike Authority usually gives away small Maine-themed items, such as mouse pads and refrigerator magnets. The Farmers’ Almanac, which retails for $6.79, is one of its more valuable gifts.

Published in Lewiston, the annual periodical has been in continuous publication since 1818. The 2015 edition, which went on sale last week, is predicting colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather in three-quarters of the country east of the Rocky Mountains. The almanac also has articles on gardening, cooking and sustainable living.

In addition, an employee of the authority will be dressed up as “Miles the Turnpike Moose,” continuing a tradition begun by Dan Paradee, a former turnpike spokesman who died in 2010.

On Friday, 35,466 northbound vehicles passed through the toll booths in York. The busiest time was between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., when 4,161 northbound vehicles passed through the booths.

When traffic nears 4,000 cars an hour in either direction through York, the highway is close to capacity, said Peter Mills, the Turnpike Authority’s executive director.

He said the traffic on Monday will be busier.

“Usually the departure day is more condensed than the incoming days,” he said. “The traffic comes in on Friday and Saturday, but it all wants to go home on Sunday afternoon, or in the case of Labor Day, on Monday.”

On Sunday at 3:52 p.m., traffic came to a standstill at mile 39 in Scarborough when a truck burst into flames. No one was hurt but northbound traffic was halted as emergency vehicles responded to the scene, a state police dispatcher said. Northbound lanes were reopened by 5:30 p.m.

Traffic has been fairly heavy on the toll road this year, growing at a pace that officials haven’t seen since before the Great Recession. Traffic increased from February through July for six consecutive months year-over-year.

Traffic growth in June was up nearly 5 percent from June 2013, and traffic in July was up nearly 3 percent over July 2013, according to the Turnpike Authority.


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