Summer is coming to an end, School is beginning, and travelers during the Labor Day weekend should plan ahead for extra congestion, including allowing extra time and traveling during non-peak times if possible.
The day has become so unpredictable for travel that the American Automobile Association (AAA) has not created a formal travel forecast for it in “many years,” according to the motor club organization; including this year.
From the Washington State Department of Transportation, be sure check weekend traffic volume charts when planning trips to help determine best times to travel on key routes. There will not be travel charts for the I-5 US-Canadian border crossing this year because the border has not been reopened long enough to provide for good analysis.
Travelers should also check ahead for any COVID-19 safety requirements at their destinations or stops along the way.
Other travel tips and resources from the attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP, include:
- 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 the 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 plan if the first choice of an outdoor location is full and never park along road shoulders, as this is unsafe for everyone on the roadway.
- Carry extra food and water as well as extra masks and hand sanitizer as an added precaution for emergencies or unexpected stops.
- Keep vehicles at least a quarter full of fuel throughout travel. The state Department of Commerce says with many people still driving rather than flying, there could be local delays in fuel deliveries during heavy travel weekends. 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 needed and leaving enough for everyone else.
- Given ongoing fire danger and dry conditions, never throw cigarettes or anything ignited out of vehicles, don’t park on grassy areas and ensure towing or other chains don’t drag on pavement causing sparks.
Highway construction paused
Most state highway construction work is suspended through the holiday weekend – including Monday, Sept. 6 – 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, Sept. 3, until Tuesday, Sept. 7. However, the usual holiday increase in traffic volumes means travelers should expect delays, especially eastbound on Friday, Sept 3, and westbound Monday, Sept. 6 (see charts for more detail). Receive text message alerts about significant delays by texting the number 468311 with the words “WSDOT Snoqualmie.”
In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, Sept. 6, 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.
People boarding a state ferry by vehicle should prepare for long waits. Peak travel times on most routes are expected to be westbound (or onto an island) Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 2-4, and eastbound (or off island), Sunday through Tuesday, Sept. 5-7. 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 and terminal conditions.
- A face covering is required in all indoor areas of vessels and terminals in compliance with the governor’s “Washington Ready” proclamation (PDF 196KB) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s order for public transportation.
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 Transportation Security Administration 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 during holidays.