Same old drill as with every holiday, plan ahead and stay informed for smooth travel this Thanksgiving.
The worst traffic is expected Wednesday between 4 and 6 p.m., according to AAA and INRIX, a Kirkland-based traffic analytic firm.
On U.S. 2, drivers should take comfort that the state Department of Transportation is predicting lighter traffic than what some of the summer holidays bring. For the most part, typical traffic volumes, or just slightly higher than average, are anticipated on the roadway between Stevens Pass and Skykomish.
Wednesday more vehicles than normal are forecast, but it’s not expected to slow down travelers. The heaviest influx of cars is predicted for westbound just after midday Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and eastbound Saturday around lunchtime.
On I-5, between Bellingham and the Canadian border, slightly heavier than normal traffic is likely northbound and southbound during the day from Wednesday to Sunday, according to WSDOT travel charts. A spike which could lead to stop-and-go traffic is predicted northbound on Sunday between 3 and 5 p.m. and southbound 1 to 3 p.m.
WSDOT is expecting lengthy delays on I-90 between North Bend and Cle Elum heading east Wednesday between 1 and 5 p.m. On Thanksgiving moderate to heavy traffic is expected in the morning in both directions. Over the weekend, after the big feast, heading west the heaviest traffic is predicted to come around noon and last until 4 p.m. Saturday, and from noon until 6 p.m. Sunday. Eastbound the worst is likely to occur midday Sunday.
Traveling by water, the longest ferry lines westbound are expected Wednesday afternoon and evening and on Thanksgiving morning. Eastbound, the longest lines are likely to occur Thanksgiving afternoon and Friday morning.
For those staying close to home, Community Transit local buses will operating on a Sunday schedule and no commuter routes will be running to Seattle on Thanksgiving. Friday local buses will be back on the regular schedule and limited commuter service will be running. Routes running that day include the 402, 413, 421 and 855.
Everett Transit will be running on the Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving and the day after.
On Thanksgiving Sound Transit will not be running Sounder trains and buses will be on the Sunday schedule. The day after, the Sounder will operate on a reduced schedule and buses will be back on the regular weekday schedule.
Cool temperatures are forecast for Western Washington around Thanksgiving with a slight chance of rain or snow, according to the National Weather Service. Drivers should be prepared for conditions to change rapidly in the passes. If this happens, reduce speeds and increase following distance.
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WSDOT mobile app: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Inform/mobile.htm
Best times to travel: www.wsdot.wa.gov/travel/times/holidays/thanksgiving/driver-tips
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