Plan ahead, use WSDOT tools to stay in the know before and during trips
OLYMPIA – Whether taking in the great outdoors or staying close to home, the last holiday weekend of the summer typically brings additional traffic, so planning ahead and allowing extra travel time is crucial as Labor Day approaches.
For those who are traveling, consulting the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Labor Day weekend traffic volume charts can help determine best times to travel on key routes. (Due to closure of the US-Canadian border to non-essential travel, there will not be travel charts for the border crossing.)
While some traffic volumes have dipped due to the pandemic, traffic to popular outdoor areas can still be heavy. If possible, altering travel to less busy times can improve individual trips and help keep all traffic flowing more freely. Staying close to home, limiting non-essential travel and having a backup plan if your location is already crowded also will help reduce travel stress as well as slow the spread of COVID-19.
Know before you go
Those venturing out on land or sea can use several WSDOT tools to keep updated throughout the trip:
- Check WSDOT’s mobile app, Facebook page, multiple Twitter accounts and online toolsfor traffic information and ferry schedules. (When driving, have a passenger check online updates or pull over to safe place before using electronic devices.)
- Call the 511 travel information hotline. For out-of-state callers, it’s 1-800-695-ROAD (7623).
- Pre-program vehicle radios to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
- Carry extra water, snacks and other supplies in case you’re delayed along the way.
Statewide construction halted, but expect holiday travel delays -- especially on passes
To ease congestion statewide, WSDOT suspends most state highway construction work during the weekend, starting Friday, Sept. 4, through Monday, Sept. 7, though some larger construction zones and detours may remain in place. Traffic is always heavy over Interstate 90’s Snoqualmie Pass on summer weekends, so travelers should allow extra travel time or consider traveling during non-peak times, typically early in the day or later in the evening.
In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, Sept. 7, on the State Route 520 bridge and the SR 99 tunnel. The Interstate 405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on the Monday holiday. Travelers can learn about toll roads and rental car tips on the Good to Go! visitors page.
People boarding a state ferry by vehicle should prepare for long waits and plan to remain in their vehicle throughout the sailing as much as possible due to the pandemic. Some routes are operating on reduced sailing schedules. A face covering and proper physical distancing are required for all walk-on passengers.
- Sign up for ferry email alerts.
- Check terminal conditions and WSF’s COVID-19 travel updatesbefore leaving.
- Make a vehicle reservationfor the Anacortes/San Juan Islands or Port Townsend/Coupeville routes.
Other travel considerations
Travelers planning to avoid highway congestion by traveling via train, personal aircraft or transit also should factor the holiday into their plans and check ahead to see if there are any COVID-19 restrictions or requirements:
- Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station 30 minutes before departure. Book now or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
- Check the status of state-operated airports online or by calling 800-552-0666.
- Check with local public transit agencies for any holiday schedule or service changes, including some Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service that may not run on holidays.