One way to guarantee a happy and beautiful holiday trip is with WSDOT vacation charts.
Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the Washington State Department of Transportation.
People who may travel over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house for the weekend leading up to Christmas Day should make travel preparations now. Whether traveling by bicycle, foot, ferry, train, vehicle or a ruby red sleigh with jingle bells, the Washington State Department of Transportation has prepared holiday travel charts (wsdot.wa.gov/travel/holiday-weekend-travel/christmas-weekend-travel-times) for people to consult prior to heading out. Congestion is predicted based on annual travel volumes for major routes like Interstate 5, I-90 and US 2.
Most construction will be paused over the three-day weekend to help reduce congestion. WSDOT recommends people travel early or late, if possible, and give themselves plenty of extra time. Crashes or emergency road repairs also can add to travel times in addition to inclement weather like snow or ice. WSDOT suggests people carry chains and other winter driving essentials and “know before you go.”
WSDOT has many tools and resources to help plan travel this holiday season:Get informed about WSDOT’s online tools, including the WSDOT mobile app, traffic cameras and email alerts.
Visit online traveler information for traffic, weather, ferry schedules and a real-time travel map.
Follow WSDOT on various social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and X (formerly known as Twitter).
Identify potential safety rest areas before heading out, to ensure enough breaks to avoid drowsy driving.
Pre-program vehicle radios to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio updates – and be alert for other stations listed on notice signs in some areas.
Leave extra time for holiday and winter travel, slow down and leave extra space between vehicles when driving on snow or ice.
Weather conditions over mountain passes can change rapidly so it’s important for travelers to plan ahead and follow posted chain requirements. It’s often drivers who travel too fast, without traction tires or chains or under the influence that close a mountain pass for everyone. Practice installing chains before heading out the door – and not for the first time along the side of highway during a winter storm.
No construction is planned on I-90 Monday, Dec. 25. However, the usual holiday increase in traffic volumes means travelers should expect delays for both directions of travel, in particular on Saturday and Tuesday (see charts for more detail). Receive text message alerts about closures and delays by texting “Start” to 85107. To unsubscribe text “Stop.”
In the Puget Sound region, weekend toll rates will be in effect Monday, Dec. 25, on the State Route 520 bridge and the SR 99 tunnel. The I-405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on Christmas. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads and temporary account payment options on the Good To Go! visitors page.
People boarding a state ferry by vehicle should prepare for long waits. Peak travel times on most routes are expected to be Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 20-24, especially westbound (or onto an island), and Tuesday through Saturday, Dec. 26-30, mainly eastbound (or off an island). Customers can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger.
Visit the Washington State Ferries website for more details on sailings schedules, vehicle reservations, ferry alerts and terminal conditions.
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 plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. There are now 12 daily trains running between Seattle and Portland. Trains operate between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon, stopping at 18 stations along the way. Buses also are available for travel between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia and between Seattle and Bellingham. Visit www.AmtrakCascades.com/ or call 800-USA-RAIL for tickets and schedules.
For information about traveling via state-sponsored airports, visit wsdot.wa.gov/travel/aviation/airports-list or call 360-788-7437.
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.