Early Prep Key for Thanksgiving Travel

While making plans for the big holiday feast, be sure to add travel prep to the Thanksgiving to-do list.

The Washington State Department of Transportation urges all travelers to “know before you go” and plan head for smoother travel during the busy holiday weekend.

The agency also provides several tools to help plan holiday travels:

  • Consult WSDOT’s travel times charts, which use historical information to help drivers know before they go.
  • Check out online tools, including mobile apps, traffic cameras and email alerts.
  • Visit WSDOT’s online traveler information about traffic, weather and ferry schedules.
  • Follow WSDOT’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • 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 leave extra space between vehicles when driving on snow or ice.

 Apple Cup travel

Those traveling to the Friday, Nov. 23, Apple Cup football game in Pullman should prepare for possible winter weather on passes and allow extra travel time. A detour on State Route 26 near Othello – the main route to Pullman from the west side of the state – will continue for the holiday weekend to allow concrete to cure. The detour adds 15 minutes to the normal drive, but travelers should prepare for delays during heavy holiday or game-day traffic. Westbound traffic on I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass both Saturday, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov. 25, is likely to be heavier than normal with both game and holiday travelers, so please allow extra time or alter travel plans if possible.

Mountain passes

  • SR 123 Cayuse Pass and SR 410 Chinook Pass remain open as of Nov. 15, but check the winter closure webpage for updates before traveling because conditions could cause the passes to close before the holiday.
  • SR 20 North Cascades Highway also remains open as of Nov. 15 and details about the road status and winter closure also are available online.
  • On Interstate 90 Snoqualmie Pass travelers can receive text alerts for pass delays of 30 minutes or longer – text “wsdot snoqualmie” to 468311 to subscribe, and “wsdot stop” to unsubscribe.

Tolls

In the Puget Sound area, the SR 520 bridge will have weekend toll rates on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, returning to weekday rates on Friday, Nov. 23. On the I-405 express toll lanes, travel is free for 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 express toll lanes. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads and short term account options on the Good to Go! visitors page.

Other travel alternatives

Travelers planning a trip by ferry, train, personal aircraft or bus also should make plans to avoid holiday delays:

  • Please 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. 21, and eastbound Friday morning, Nov. 23. Reservations are recommended on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney, British Columbia and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes. Some ferry routes run on Saturday schedules on the holiday; check ferry schedules online or call 888-808-7977 for details.
  • Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. There are no extra Thanksgiving trains this year. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations and trains fill up quickly during holidays. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/  or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
  • Information about traveling via state-operated airports is available on line or call 800-552-0666.
  • Check with 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.

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