Traffic volume on the Maine Turnpike soared over the Memorial Day weekend, providing another indication that the state’s tourism industry is starting to get back on track after much of the state and country were locked down for 14 months by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preliminary numbers released Tuesday by the Maine Turnpike Authority showed there were 940,000 transactions on the Maine Turnpike between Friday and Monday. That represents a 66.5 percent increase over the 2020 Memorial Day weekend, the turnpike authority said.

York toll collectors reported seeing a large number of cars from New England states heading north through the York toll plaza on Friday afternoon and evening, MTA spokesperson Erin Courtney said.

Courtney attributed much of the surge to pent up demand from out-of-state residents looking to get away for a few days after having spent much of the past year staying home or operating under travel restrictions.

Courtney said if it hadn’t rained, the state might have broken the Memorial Day weekend record set in 2019, when the turnpike authority recorded more than 1 million transactions. Traffic volume on the Maine Turnpike last weekend was down only 7.4 percent from the same four-day period in 2019.

The flood of visitors leaving the state to return home did pose challenges on Monday, with the MTA reporting “significant backups” in southbound lanes between the York Toll Plaza and the Kennebunk exit (mile 25) at its peak. Courtney said southbound turnpike traffic was slow moving for most of the day.

“These types of backups are indicative to us that summer and the tourists have arrived,” Courtney said in a news release. “Had the weather cooperated with us this year, I think we would have seen even more traffic on the road. We are hopeful that it is a sign that this summer is going to be a good one for everyone that relies on tourism.”

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