The Edmonds-Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton ferry routes are expected to be two to of the busiest lines this Labor Day weekend. (Andy Bronson / Herald File)

The Edmonds-Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton ferry routes are expected to be two to of the busiest lines this Labor Day weekend. (Andy Bronson / Herald File)

Labor Day travel: Get an early start or wait until nightfall

Avoiding traffic congestion can be a guessing game, but here’s what state agencies are predicting.

EVERETTLabor Day travelers likely won’t have to maneuver around state highway construction sites. But just like any other holiday, heavy traffic is expected on the roads and ferries.

As many families squeeze in one last vacation before school starts, folks might want to leave early or late to avoid congestion.

The state Department of Transportation anticipates moderate to heavy traffic on eastbound U.S. 2 from Skykomish to Stevens Pass starting at 10 a.m. and lasting until 8 p.m. Friday. And again, mid-morning to early afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

Heading home, that same volume is expected to ramp up beginning at 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday, with a longer stretch Monday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

WSDOT is expecting the heaviest eastbound traffic on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass to occur 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and then again 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. And heading west, heavy volumes are predicted from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday and starting again at 9 a.m. and lasting until 6 p.m. Monday.

Heading north to Canada, drivers might want to avoid traveling in the afternoon Friday through Monday between Bellingham and the Canadian border. Coming south, heavy traffic is expected during the day Friday, mid-morning to early afternoon Saturday and Sunday, and midday Monday.

WSDOT is suspending most construction in Snohomish County Friday through Monday, according to Barbara LaBoe, a spokesperson for the agency. Crews will still be working on Highway 530 east of Arlington, LaBoe said, but that should not impact traffic very much.

“Any place that’s generally busy on weekends is likely to be more so during the Labor Day weekend. So allow extra time and be prepared and patient,” LaBoe said. “If traveling locally, taking local routes instead of getting on I-5, for example, may be a good option.”

If folks have flexibility, driving home Tuesday is a better option than traveling on Monday, she added.

On Monday, the I-405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all traffic.

Nationally gas prices are on track to be at their cheapest for the Labor Day holiday in three years, according to AAA. This week in Washington, the average cost per gallon was $3.21.

The Washington State Ferries peak ridership usually spans from Fourth of July to the Labor Day holiday. The rush is likely to start Thursday, according to Justin Fujioka, a spokesperson for the Washington State Ferries. Some of the longest wait times are expected on the Edmonds-Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton ferry routes.

To avoid the lines, aim for an early morning or late evening sailing, or leave your car behind — there’s always room for walk-on passengers.

The busiest times on westbound routes is anticipated to be Friday afternoon through Saturday. And heading east, peak volumes are expected Sunday evening into Monday as folks return home.

For those sticking closer to home, Community Transit buses will run on a Sunday schedule. The agency is planning to continue to run extra evening route 271 buses from the Evergreen State Fair on Labor Day. The last bus heading to Everett will depart the fair at 8:34 p.m. and for travelers going to Gold Bar the last bus will be at 8:35 p.m.

Sounder trains will not operate on Monday. Sound Transit’s express bus service will run on a Sunday schedule.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165;; Twitter: @lizzgior.


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