wsdot logoOLYMPIA – It’s not technically summer yet, but Memorial Day weekend, May 25-28, often brings summer-level traffic to state roadways. That’s why it’s important to have a holiday travel plan before heading out the door.

By following these steps, travelers can get where they’re going with fewer headaches:

  • Check the Washington State Department of Transportation's best times to travel charts to help plan your trip and avoid congestion.
  • Get informed about WSDOT's online tools, including the WSDOT mobile app, traffic cameras and email alerts.
  • Visit online traveler informationfor traffic, weather and ferry schedules.
  • Follow WSDOT's social media accounts, such as Twitterand Facebook.
  • Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
  • Call 5-1-1 for updated road conditions.
  • Allow extra time for travel during the holidays to avoid rushing or distraction.

Most state highway construction work is suspended through the holiday weekend – including Monday, May 28 – to ease congestion. However, please stay alert for new lane shifts or work zone staging areas that may be remain in place.

Snoqualmie Pass

No lane closures or other construction is planned from Friday, May 25, to Tuesday, May 29, however the usual holiday increase in traffic volumes means travelers should expect delays, especially eastbound on Friday, May 25, and westbound Monday, May 28. Receive text message alerts about significant delays by texting the number 468311 with the words "WSDOT Snoqualmie"

Chinook and Cayuse passes

In the mountains, spring snow and a construction project in Mount Rainier National Park mean Chinook and Cayuse passes will not reopen by the holiday weekend this year. The passes are scheduled to open June 11. Chinook Pass, State Route 410, is closed between Crystal Mountain Boulevard, about 12 miles northwest of the summit, and Morse Creek, five miles east of the summit. SR 123 over Cayuse Pass is closed between Crystal Mountain Boulevard and the Stevens Canyon Road entrance. Both these passes close each winter due to weather and hazardous conditions.

Tolling

In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, May 28, on the State Route 520 bridge. The Interstate 405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on the Monday holiday. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads and short term account options on the Good to Go! visitors page.

Travelers making a trip by ferry, train, personal aircraft or bus also should plan ahead to avoid holiday delays:

  • Anticipate heavy ferry traffic for the holiday and plan accordingly. Peak travel times on most routes are expected to be westbound Thursday and Friday, May 24-25, and eastbound, Monday, May 28. Check the Washington State Ferries website, www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/, or call toll-free 888-808-7977 for details, including reservations on some routes. Customers also can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger.
  • Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
  • For information about traveling via state-operated airports, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation/airports/Amenities.htmor call 800-552-0666.
  • Check with local public transit agenciesfor any holiday schedule or service changes, including some Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service that may not run on holidays

wsdot logoDrivers will also experience delays through multiple work zones

HYAK – Rock blasting is scheduled to close Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass for about an hour Monday through Wednesday next week.

The contractor working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will close I-90 at 7 p.m. for about an hour each night Monday, May 21, Tuesday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 23. During rock blasting closures eastbound drivers will be stopped at milepost 56 near Gold Creek and westbound drivers will be stopped at milepost 61 near the Price Creek area.

Drivers will also experience delays Monday, May 21 through Thursday, May 24 during the day and at night through multiple work zones between North Bend and Ellensburg. Drivers are encouraged to check our What’s Happening on I-90 Webpage for specific daily impacts and locations.

WSDOT provides a variety of tools to help plan your trip over Snoqualmie Pass this summer:

  • Visit the What’s Happening on I-90 Webpage for weekly travel information
  • Download WSDOT’s free smartphone app to check statewide pass conditions
  • Receive text message alerts about closures and delays by texting the number 468311 with the words "WSDOT Snoqualmie"
  • Tune into the Highway Advisory Radio at 1610 AM and 530 AM
  • Call 5-1-1 from your hands-free device
  • Sign up for email updates
  • Follow us on Twitter @SnoqualmiePass

wsdot logoDIABLO- With the rev of some engines and the swing of the gate, State Route 20/North Cascades Highway has reopened for 2017. Opening for the upcoming summer season not only provides drivers another option to cross the Cascades but reconnects US Bike Route 10 between Skagit and Okanogan counties.

Washington State Department of Transportation crews were able to speed up the projected eight week reopening with a little help from mother nature. Spring rain helped melt some areas of snow and WSDOT crews worked long days to clear more than 45 feet of snow from below Liberty Bell Mountain and more than 20 feet in many other avalanche chute areas.

Todays 11 a.m. opening allowed crews to do a final sweep of the highway to remove remaining debris. All travelers should be aware that this route is a scenic byway that features jagged glaciated peaks, high elevations, two lanes and sharp turns. All travelers should be prepared for quickly changing conditions and limited facilities between Diablo and Mazama.

Other SR 20 construction
Travelers heading to the North Cascades Highway from Interstate 5 should be prepared for weekday daytime work between Sedro-Woolley and Concrete. Contractor crews from Granite Construction are currently working on repairing cracks, potholes and bridge decks before resurfacing this 20 mile stretch later this summer. This work is expected to last through September.

Drivers and cyclists hoping to use SR 20 between Twisp and Omak will need to add a lengthy detour to their trip via SR 153. SR 20 west of Loup Loup Summit is closed due to washouts, mudslides and road repair work. Crews are working to repair the area, but there is currently no estimate for reopening.

How long will this stretch of highway be open?
WSDOT crews will keep the North Cascades Highway open as long as it is safe to do so. The gates will close at mileposts 134 and 171 when snow starts filling up avalanche chutes, making it unsafe for travelers and crews to be on the road. That usually happens around Thanksgiving.

wsdot logoDrivers will also experience delays through multiple work zones

HYAK – Rock blasting is scheduled to close Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass for about an hour next week.

The contractor working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will close I-90 at 7 p.m. for about an hour each night Wednesday, May 16 and Thursday, May 17. During rock blasting closures eastbound drivers will be stopped at milepost 56 near Gold Creek and westbound drivers will be stopped at milepost 61 near the Price Creek area.

Drivers will also experience delays Monday, May 14 through Friday, May 18 during the day and at night through multiple work zones between North Bend and Ellensburg. Drivers are encouraged to check our What’s Happening on I-90 Webpage for specific daily impacts and locations.

WSDOT provides a variety of tools to help plan your trip over Snoqualmie Pass this summer:

  • Visit the What’s Happening on I-90 Webpage for weekly travel information
  • Download WSDOT’s free smartphone app to check statewide travel information
  • Receive text message alerts about closures and delays by texting the number 468311 with the words "WSDOT Snoqualmie"
  • Tune into the Highway Advisory Radio at 1610 AM and 530 AM
  • Call 5-1-1 from your hands-free device
  • Sign up for email updates
  • Follow us on Twitter @SnoqualmiePass

Plastic flamingos and bird kites help keep our North Cascades Pass clearing crews safe – and entertained

When you see a plastic flamingo yard ornament or a kite decorated like an eagle, you likely don't think safety. But, for our avalanche and maintenance crews clearing State Route 20, these mascots can be the reason they return home at the end of their shift.The flamingos and other feathered friends help us during our work to clear popular destinations like the North Cascades Highway, which will reopen Friday, May 11.It's tough work clearing up to 11 feet of snow from roadways closed for the season – especially given the historic avalanche chutes that make the roads unsafe during the winter months. These known areas of avalanche activity are particularly dangerous and unpredictable and we don't want our crews stopping or parking underneath them.

 wsdot flamingos800

Floyd (right in hard hat) and his safety flamingo flock help mark dangerous areas for our avalanche and maintenance crews reopening the North Cascade Highway. The birds' bright pink coloring standing out against the snow and warn crews about hazardous areas.


The dangers are included in daily safety briefings and training and are marked with traditional signs, but several years back, our avalanche crew wanted another way to reinforce the message. Complacency is a serious risk factor in repetitive, dangerous work so they wanted a new way to catch workers' attention."That's how accidents happen," explains Mike Stanford, our North Central Region Avalanche Supervisor. "You've done the same thing a million times before and then one day you don't pay attention."Enter Floyd the flamingo.Stanford spied Floyd – in all of his pink, plastic glory – in a store one day and knew this was the answer. Not only does the pink color stand out against the snow, a flamingo suddenly appearing on a mountain pass, covered with snow, certainly gets attention.Inexpensive and easy to relocate, Floyd also was a low-cost solution to a serious safety hazard. "We try to do the best and safest thing we can at the lowest cost.," Stanford said. The plastic birds are also easy to replace if they were ever buried in an avalanche. (There have been a couple of close calls but, so far, no flamingo has been lost in the line of duty.)Once crews and the public saw the first flamingo, the questions began. He soon had a name and an entire backstory, including a home base in Louisiana.  At first, Floyd flew solo, but soon members of his extended family also joined the safety crew. A whole flock of pink flamingos – some wearing miniature hard hats and Mardi Gras beads - have been seen during clearing.

 wsdot clear2018 800

Left: This spring an eagle kite was used in place of flamingos, with the coloring and movement a reminder to crews to not stop near it. After the kite string broke, however, it's likely stationary flamingos will return to the job next year. Right: Floyd the flamingo – wearing a mini hard hat – stands at attention near "the annex", a particularly dangerous area near Washington Pass where crews need to avoid stopping or parking.


Floyd's antics were added to the weekly updates on the North Cascades Highway clearing progress and his fame soon reached far beyond Washington state. A couple of the flamingo flock have even been "liberated" by die-hard fans.This year, however, Floyd took a break. The tale up on SR 20 goes that Floyd had some legal issues back in Louisiana and sent his "distant cousin" an eagle kite in his place. The eagle was also very visible to crews, but he "abandoned" his post in late April when the kite's string broke in strong winds – luckily, after the avalanche chute area was cleared. Given the eagle's dependability issues, crews say to expect the flamingos back on the job in 2019.In all seriousness, while flamingos and kites are fun, they do serve a serious purpose. We want to reopen roads as soon as possible each spring, but we also need to keep our crews safe in the process. Closely following our safety policy lets us achieve both goals. And, if some of our tools also make the crews smile during a long, dangerous job, that doesn't hurt either.

wsdot logoMail Centennial Celebration Flight honors airmail history 

OLYMPIA – Like a flight back in time, historic Stearman Speedmail biplanes will carry mail from San Diego to Seattle from Sunday, May 13, to Friday, May 18, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of airmail service in the United States. The Mail Centennial Celebration includes a stop in Olympia where the public can view these rare planes.

The Olympia stop is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 18. The event is being hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division and takes place at the division’s offices at the Olympia Regional Airport in Tumwater.

Attendees can speak with pilots and get an up close view of three Stearman Speedmail biplanes used as mail planes in the early 1930s. Powered by 450 horsepower engines, the wood and fabric open-cockpit aircraft were noted for their dependability and ability to carry heavy loads. Of the 41 built, only seven still fly – so this is a rare chance to see these biplanes as they retrace the pioneering West Coast airmail route, known as Contract Air Mail 8 (CAM 8).

This historical reenactment honors the first government-operated airmail flight in America. On May 15, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson and members of Congress watched an Army pilot depart in a wood and fabric biplane from Washington, D.C., bound for New York.

The 2018 flight is sponsored by the nonprofit Western Antique Airplane and Automobile Museum of Hood River, Oregon and endorsed by the U.S. Postal Service. The biplanes will carry commemorative envelopes that will be officially postmarked at each of the 12 stops. Delivery of traditional residential and business mail will not be affected.

Six pilots will take part in the event with three, Addison Pemberton and Jeff Hamilton, both from Spokane, and Ben Scott of Reno, Nevada, sworn-in as official airmail pilots to assist local post office authorities.

Pemberton said the airmail service was the first step toward American commercial airline service, noting it was considered crucial enough to start even while the nation was fighting World War I. “The potential and importance of aviation was recognized even in those early days,” he said.

After departing San Diego, on Sunday, May 13, stops will include Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Francisco, Concord and Redding in California; Medford and Eugene in Oregon; Vancouver, Olympia and Seattle in Washington.

The flight is expected to take approximately 12 flying hours spread throughout the six-day event. Updates, including any weather delays, will be posted on the CAM 8 website as well as a Facebook page and Instagram account.

Olympia airmail stop details

When:            1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Friday, May 18.

Where:           WSDOT Aviation offices, 7702 Terminal St., Tumwater, WA

Vehicle Parking:         WSDOT Aviation parking lot. Overflow parking will be along Southwest Terminal Street, near the Capital Little League baseball field.

Aircraft Parking:         Pilots should park on the east side of the Olympia Regional Airport runway in the general aviation parking area. WSDOT Aviation’s ramp will be closed to all aircraft except those participating in the airmail reenactment.

wsdot logo85-day, $5 million project replaces Methow Valley State Airport’s 22-year-old pavement

WINTHROP – Methow Valley State Airport’s pavement is 22 years old. Later this month, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Aviation begins a $5 million project to replace and rehabilitate the pavement to maintain this crucial infrastructure.

The airport will be closed to the public on May 14 to allow Wenatchee general contractor, Selland Construction, to start the project. Methow Valley State Airport in Winthrop is the largest of 16 WSDOT-managed airports, serving commercial aircraft that weigh up to 30,000 pounds.

The runway is tentatively scheduled to reopen at the end of June to avoid interfering with the expected fire season operations of the United States Forest Service (USFS), conducted by North Cascades Smokejumper Base (NCSB). The NCSB is prepared to operate out of alternate airports as necessary until construction is completed.

Construction costs are split between the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and WSDOT Aviation. The FAA is supporting 90 percent and WSDOT Aviation is supporting 10 percent of the total cost. 

WSDOT Aviation will issue an airport closure and Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), but will keep the airport’s Automated Weather Observing Station (AWOS) operational.

Three main phases for this pavement rehabilitation project include:

  • Phase 1 – Rehabilitate runway 13/31 pavement: Remove existing aged runway pavement, install new stormwater drainage system, new asphalt pavement, and sub-grade improvements for the entire 5,049-foot runway.
  • Phase 2 - West connector taxiway rehabilitation and widening: Remove an existing forest service non-standard taxiway connector, modify the west side transient ramp taxiway connector to meet current FAA design standards, and taxiway lighting modifications followed by new pavement. 
  • Phase 3 – West apron rehabilitation: Rehabilitate the west side transient parking ramp through additional sub-grade and pavement overlay upgrades.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 are scheduled to be completed within the first 45 days. Once Phase 2 is completed, WSDOT Aviation will open the runway for public use with west side transient ramp access restrictions.

A fourth phase to expand the west general aviation aircraft parking apron to the south will be advertised in 2018 for construction in spring/summer 2019.

wsdot logoDrivers need to plan for delays, slow down and pay attention through work zones this summer

HYAK – Despite late spring snow storms, work on a number of road-improvements on Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass will begin next week.

Construction-related lane closures will slow down travelers as contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation build new lanes and bridges, repair existing structures, and fix cracked sections of pavement between North Bend and Ellensburg.

“We don’t have as much construction taking place on I-90 this spring and summer as we have had in the past, but drivers still need to plan ahead, pay attention to work zones and be patient,” said Todd Trepanier, WSDOT regional administrator.

Earlier this week, work resumed on the  I-90 Snoqulamie Pass East project that will build a wider, safer and more reliable stretch of the interstate from Hyak to Keechelus Dam, and from Keechelus Dam to the Stampede Pass interchange. This 7-mile section of the project is scheduled to be completed by this fall, which includes the first wildlife crossing to be built over I-90.


Next month, work will resume to replace deteriorating sections of concrete pavement panels in the eastbound lanes between North Bend and the Snoqualmie Pass summit. Delays are expected when traffic detours around the work zone. Additional concrete panel replacement is schedule to begin between Issaquah and North Bend in mid-May.

Several I-90 interchanges in Easton, Thorpe and Ellensburg will be repaved this summer.

WSDOT has a wide variety of resources to help with trip planning across I-90. Before heading out the door, travelers can find the latest information on the What’s Happening on I-90, Snoqualmie Mountain Pass and Traffic Alerts pages, and by also following @snoqualmiepass and @wsdot_east on Twitter. Email updates are available, and mobile phone users can sign up for text message alerts by sending the phrase “WSDOT Snoqualmie” to the number 468311.

wsdot logoRemove studded tires by deadline to avoid fines, prevent road damage

OLYMPIA – Spring is here but the potential of some late season snow means the deadline to remove studded tires in Washington has been extended for two weeks. The removal deadline is now by the end of the day, Sunday, April 15.

State law allows the Washington State Department of Transportation to extend the deadline into April if current or predicted conditions could make for difficult travel. The decision to extend is made in consultation with meteorologists and maintenance supervisors. The deadline was last extended in 2012.

This year’s decision was based on long-range forecasts that show the potential for significant weather, including snow that could affect cross-state travel into April.

With the extension, all studded tires need to be removed no later than the end of the day (11:59 p.m.) Sunday, April 15. Starting Monday, April 16, drivers with studded tires on their vehicles face a $136 traffic infraction. Removal services can be crowded as the deadline approaches, so please plan accordingly.

Studded tires damage pavement each year – costing an estimated $29 million annually in additional wear and tear on state roads alone. Long-term, WSDOT continues to urge drivers to investigate alternatives such as studless winter tires, which are not subject to removal deadlines.

Washington and Oregon generally share the same studded tire removal deadline and the Oregon Department of Transportation is extending their removal deadline to April 15. Other states may have later tire removal dates, but the Washington law applies to all vehicles in the state, even those visiting from elsewhere. There are no personal exemptions or waivers beyond the extension date.

WSDOT crews will continue to monitor roads, passes and forecasts and work to clear any late season snow or ice. Travelers are always advised to “know before you go,” whatever the season. Check road conditions before heading out and stay up-to-date on changes by using WSDOT’s mobile app and social media and email alert tools, or by calling the 5-1-1 road conditions report.

wsdot logoTruck drivers have new option to bypass weigh stations

OLYMPIA – Commercial truck drivers now have another option for bypassing state weigh stations – by opting into a system that saves time and money.

A new agreement allows drivers in Washington to use the PrePass weigh station transponder, doing away with having to carry several transponders for in- and out-of-state travel. The Washington State Department of Transportation and HELP, Inc., – a nonprofit public/private trucking industry partnership that provides PrePass transponders – reached the agreement in December. Drivers can now register PrePass transponders for Washington weigh stations.

Transponders allow trucks to bypass weigh stations by electronically verifying a truck’s legal weight, safety rating and credentials as the truck travels at freeway speeds. Based on the transponder, and scales embedded in the freeway, drivers receive either a green light to continue driving or a red light indicating they must report to the weigh station for closer inspection. Transponder usage keeps safe and legal trucks on the road and reduces travel time.

Use of the WSDOT’s in-state transponder system saved the industry approximately 111,000 hours of travel time and $12.8 million in 2016. Washington is the second most trade-dependent state in the nation per capita and one of WSDOT’s roles is to support economic vitality, including the efficient movement of freight.

Previously, truck drivers in Washington purchased a transponder from WSDOT that also worked in several other jurisdictions. The WSDOT transponders could be added to the PrePass system – if requested by the driver – but general PrePass transponders could not communicate with WSDOT weigh stations, meaning some drivers had to carry two transponders. The new agreement means drivers can just carry one transponder if they choose. WSDOT will continue to sell transponders. 

“The goal is one transponder that will work everywhere,” said Anne Ford, WSDOT’s commercial vehicle services administrator. “We are pleased our partnership with HELP, Inc. helps achieve that goal.”

“We are excited to be entering into this partnership with Washington and look forward to working with WSDOT through this mutual agreement,” said Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of HELP, Inc. “Safe fleets and drivers appreciate the time and fuel savings of PrePass as well as opportunities for interoperability of their transponders.”

To use PrePass transponders in Washington, carriers should contact the

PrePass Customer Service Center online or at 1-800-PREPASS (1-800-773-7277), weekdays from, 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Drivers will be required to submit a signed waiver of HELP’s data privacy policy to PrePass,