Barbara LaBoe, communications
Use WSDOT tools, plan ahead for holiday weekend traffic
OLYMPIA – With Memorial Day serving as the unofficial kick-off for summer travel, anyone hitting the roads during the holiday weekend should plan ahead and prepare for additional traffic – especially during peak travel times.
For those who are traveling, consulting the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Memorial Day weekend traffic volume charts can help determine best times to travel on key routes. Due to the closure of the US-Canadian border to non-essential travel, there will not be travel charts for the border crossing. Travelers should also check ahead for any COVID-19 safety requirements at their destinations or stops along the way.
Given an expected increase in traffic this holiday, travelers should be sure to keep vehicles at least a quarter full of fuel throughout travel. The state Department of Commerce says there is no fuel shortage like recently seen on the East Coast, but with many people still driving rather than flying, there could be local delays in fuel deliveries during heavy travel weekends this summer. Downloading an app that identifies nearby gas stations may be helpful if traveling in a different part of the state, as will buying only the fuel you need to leave enough for everyone else.
By following these steps, travelers can “know before they go” and plan ahead, whether they’re just traveling across town or across the state:
- Get informed about WSDOT’s online tools, including the WSDOT mobile app, traffic cameras and email alerts.
- Visit online traveler information for traffic, weather and ferry schedules.
- Follow WSDOT’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
- Call 5-1-1 for updated road conditions.
- Have a backup outdoor location if your first choice is full and never park along road shoulders, as this is unsafe for everyone on the roadway.
- Allow extra time for travel to avoid rushing or distraction.
- Carry extra food and water as well as extra masks and hand sanitizer as an added precaution for emergencies or unexpected stops.
Highway construction paused
Most state highway construction work is suspended through the holiday weekend – including Monday, May 31 – to ease congestion. However, please stay alert for new lane shifts or work zone staging areas that may remain in place. And please give any emergency repair crews plenty of space to work safely.
No lane closures or other construction is planned on Interstate 90 from Friday, May 28, until to Tuesday, June 1. However, the usual holiday increase in traffic volumes means travelers should expect delays, especially eastbound on Friday, May 28, and westbound Monday, May 31 (see charts for more detail). Receive text message alerts about significant delays by texting the number 468311 with the words “WSDOT Snoqualmie.”
Chinook and Cayuse passes
Both Chinook Pass, State Route 410, and Cayuse Pass, SR 123, are expected to be open in time for the Memorial Day weekend, but it depends on progress clearing deep snow. Exact dates and other details are still being finalized. Check the Chinook and Cayuse passes webpage for updates as the holiday approaches to be sure they’re open before heading out. Both these passes close each winter due to weather and hazardous conditions.
In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, May 31, on the State Route 520 bridge and SR 99 tunnel. The Interstate 405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on the Monday holiday. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads and short-term account payment options on the Good To Go! visitors page.
People boarding a state ferry by vehicle should prepare for long waits and plan to remain in their vehicle throughout the sailing as much as possible to allow walk-on passengers more room to physically distance. Peak travel times on most routes are expected to be westbound Thursday and Friday, May 27-28, and eastbound, Monday, May 31. Customers also can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger.
- All riders should double check the sailing schedules as some routes are operating on timetables that are different than prior to the pandemic.
- Visit the Washington State Ferries website for more details on vehicle reservations, ferry email alerts, checking terminal conditions and COVID-19 travel updates.
- In compliance with federal Transportation Security Administration regulations, face masks are required in both indoor and outdoor areas of terminals and vessels if outside a vehicle. To maintain physical distancing standards, reduced occupancy in terminals and on sailings for walk-on passengers will be enforced.
Trains, airports and transit
Travelers making a trip by train, personal aircraft or bus also should plan ahead to avoid holiday delays:
- Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations and TSA regulations require all passengers to wear masks. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/ or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
- For information about traveling via state-operated airports, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation/airports/Amenities.htm or call 800-552-0666.
- Check with your local public transit agencies for any holiday schedule or service changes, including some Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service that may not run on holidays.
Telephone interviews about the charts and travel tips can be arranged by email: email@example.com