EVERETT — If you’re traveling this week or next for Christmas or the New Year, odds are you’ll hit traffic somewhere along the way.
With the holiday on Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Transportation said it couldn’t accurately predict when and where people will travel. In years past, WSDOT has offered a look at expected traffic volume during the day. The idea is that some people may have taken the weekdays leading up to it off from work, alleviating some Christmas Day traffic.
“Now with Christmas in the middle of the week, we don’t know if people are taking an extra day,” said WSDOT spokesperson Lisa Van Cise, who recommended people check road conditions before they head out.
More than 100 million Americans were expected to drive for the holidays, according to AAA. The worst period for travel in the Seattle area was projected to be 4:15p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Friday, per data from AAA and INRIX, a Kirkland-based transportation analytics company.
A reminder that we won't have #Christmas best-times-to-travel charts. With the holiday midweek we can't really predict when/where people will be traveling accurately. But it's safe to say that store parking lots will be a bit crowded the next couple days. pic.twitter.com/cUtwpBMG0u
— Washington State DOT (@wsdot) December 23, 2019
“Commute traffic will be light between now and New Year’s Day as many people take this time off work to visit family and friends,” said Kelly Just, public relations and traffic safety manager for AAA Washington. ”Roads around our airports and shopping areas will be very heavy, and we are experiencing winter weather in our mountain passes, so drivers should be prepared for tough conditions …”
Washington State Ferries was expecting the usual holiday surge.
More than 700,000 people were projected to board a ferry between Friday, Dec. 20, and Monday, Dec. 30. That means wait times of an hour or more, especially on the Edmonds-Kingston and Clinton-Mukilteo routes. Both routes will have an altered schedule on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
People planning to drive on a ferry can receive ferry travel alerts by phone about vehicle wait times. It’s also recommended that ferry commuters check terminal conditions online or in the WSDOT app before heading out.
The Sound Transit Sounder train won’t run Christmas Day or New Year’s Day and will have reduced service Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
WSDOT mobile app: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Inform/mobile.htm
Traffic alerts: www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts
Airport info and tips: www.portseattle.org/sea-tac
Winter driving essentials: www.wsdot.com/winter/default.htm
WSDOT mountain passes: www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes