With family gatherings, football – and turkey! – highways can get stuffed with traffic during Thanksgiving weekend. For trips as sweet as pumpkin pie, drivers are encouraged to plan ahead and take advantage of Washington State Department of Transportation’s travel tools.
Tips for stress-free holiday travel include:
· Consult WSDOT’s travel times charts, which use historical information to help drivers know before they go.
· Visit our online traveler information about traffic, weather and ferry schedules.
· Pre-program 530 AM and 1610 AM to vehicle radios for highway advisory radio alerts.
· Carry chains and other winter driving essentials.
· Check current chain and traction requirements on the WSDOT passes website or by calling 5-1-1, and watch for highway advisory signs.
· Leave extra time for holiday and winter travel, slow down and drive appropriately for conditions.
Apple Cup travel
Those traveling to the Friday, Nov. 25, Apple Cup football game in Pullman should also plan ahead for possible winter weather on passes and allow extra travel time to ensure they arrive before the 12:30 p.m. kickoff.
In the mountains, State Route 123 Cayuse Pass (elevation 4,675 feet), State Route 20 North Cascades Highway (elevation 5,477 feet) and Chinook Pass (elevation 5,430 feet) remain open as of Nov. 17, but the status can change quickly. On Snoqualmie Pass (elevation 3,022), a new service will send text alerts for pass delays 30 minutes or longer – text “wsdot snoqualmie” to 468311 to subscribe, and “wsdot stop” to unsubscribe.
In the Puget Sound, the State Route 520 bridge will have weekend toll rates on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, returning to weekday rates on Friday, Nov. 25. On the Interstate 405 express toll lanes, travel is free to all on the Thanksgiving holiday, returning to normal toll and HOV requirements from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday. Weekends are always free to travel in the lanes.
Other travel alternatives
Travelers planning a trip by ferry, train, personal aircraft or bus also should make plans to avoid holiday delays:
· Those traveling by ferry should plan ahead for heavy holiday ferry traffic and consider purchasing tickets online to save time. The longest lines are expected westbound Wednesday afternoon and evening, Nov. 23, and eastbound Friday morning, Nov. 25. Reservations are recommended on the San Juan and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes. Some ferry routes run on Saturday schedules on the holiday, check the Washington State Ferries website or call 888-808-7977 for details.
· Train travelers should note WSDOT added two Amtrak Cascades trains for runs on Wednesday, Nov. 23, and Sunday, Nov. 27, to the existing Thanksgiving schedule between Seattle and Portland. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations and Thanksgiving sells out quickly. More details are available at www.amtrakcascades.com/ or by phone at 800–USA–RAIL.
· Aviators can find information about state-operated airports by visiting www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation/airports/Amenities.htm or calling 800-552-0666.
· Transit riders should check with their local agency for any holiday schedule or service changes, including some Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service that may not run on holidays.