EVERETT — The Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday this year. But that might not matter when it comes to holiday traffic.
In fact, AAA predicts a record-breaking year.
More than 44 million Americans are expected to travel for the holiday — by road, sky, rail or water — between Friday and Tuesday, according to the motorists’ advocacy group. That’s 1.25 million more than last year, and more than any other year the company has tracked.
Brake lights could be even more prevalent around here.
The Seattle area ranks No. 4 on the company’s Top 10 list of summer travel destinations, based on travel bookings.
The Fourth typically attaches itself to a weekend, on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday. It fell on a Thursday in 2013, and on a Wednesday in 2012 and 2007. The Fourth last fell on a Tuesday in 2006.
The Washington State Department of Transportation often offers forecasts for holiday travel. But that’s tricky with the Fourth.
Analysts use past holiday data to predict when roads might be the most and the least congested. Holidays like the Fourth, which fall on a different day of the week each year, are generally harder to predict.
And when the holiday falls mid-week? Well, the number-crunchers usually skip the guessing game entirely.
“People travel at different times and there’s no one ‘major’ travel day,” WSDOT spokeswoman Barbara LaBoe said.
Discard hope for the best. Just plan for the worst.
“We’d ask people to give themselves extra travel time and make sure they have plenty of gas and water and snacks in case they get caught in backups,” LaBoe said.
Construction projects on interstates and highways will be put on hold, though some lanes will remain closed, including on I-90.
The Fourth is the busiest weekend of the year for Washington State Ferries; heavy vehicle traffic is expected to start Thursday.
Washington State Ferries could add extra sailings for the holiday. Extra late-night sailings already were added on the Mukilteo-Clinton route. Drivers still should arrive at least an hour early.
Holiday schedules are in effect for all ferry routes, except Anacortes-San Juan Islands, which will run on a normal weekday schedule.
Also, the I-405 express toll lanes will be open to all vehicles Tuesday. But regular toll rules will apply Monday, a business day.
Those heading north or south can also consider traveling by train; find information at www.amtrakcascades.com.
Find more traffic information at www.wsdot.com/traffic.
Government offices are closed July 4, but a quick survey of several agencies shows they plan to be open Monday. That could change for some state offices, which could be shut down if the Legislature is not able to agree on a new budget before then. Update: Fortunately, they did.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.