Pack chains and supplies to be ready for increased Thanksgiving travel on most major routes
OYLMPIA – Travelers headed over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday will want to plan now for winter weather. They also should expect delays on most major routes like Interstate 90, US 2, and I-5 both between Lacey and Tacoma and from Bellingham to the Canadian border.
In addition to gratitude lists and pumpkin pie, the Washington State Department of Transportation encourages all travelers to pack their patience and “know before you go” by consulting the agency’s popular holiday travel charts to determine best times to travel, including times to avoid if possible .
Most construction will be paused over the four-day weekend to help reduce congestion, but this is a popular travel weekend and WSDOT recommends people travel early or late, if possible, and give themselves plenty of extra time. Crashes or emergency road repairs also can add to travel times.
WSDOT has many tools and resources to help plan travel, whether making a trip across town or over the Cascade mountains:
- Get informed about WSDOT's online tools , including the WSDOT mobile app , traffic cameras and email alerts .
- Visit online traveler information for traffic, weather, ferry schedules and a real-time travel map .
- Follow WSDOT on various social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and X (formerly known as Twitter).
- Identify potential safety rest areas before heading out, to ensure enough breaks to avoid drowsy driving.
- Pre-program vehicle radios to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts – and be alert for other stations listed on notice signs in some areas.
- Carry chains and other winter travel essentials .
- Check the WSDOT mountain passes webpage for information on pass updates or the latest chain or traction tire requirements.
- Leave extra time for holiday and winter travel , slow down and leave extra space between vehicles when driving on snow or ice.
Crews are ready for winter; are you?
WSDOT crews are prepped for winter weather – including pre-treating and plowing to keep everyone moving. Travelers can help by being prepared for winter weather driving conditions , slowing down on snow and ice, putting the phone down and never driving impaired. People can sign up for area-specific communication about road closures or scheduled maintenance activities including areas close to home or areas they’ll be traveling to for the holiday .
Weather conditions over mountain passes can change rapidly so it’s important for travelers to plan ahead and follow posted chain requirements . It’s often drivers who travel too fast, without traction tires or chains or under the influence that close a mountain pass for everyone. Practice installing chains before heading out the door – and not for the first time along the side of highway during a winter storm.
No construction is planned on I-90 Thursday and Friday, Nov. 23-24. However, the usual holiday increase in traffic volumes means travelers should expect delays, especially eastbound on Wednesday and Thursday and westbound on Friday and Saturday ( see charts for more detail ). Receive text message alerts about closures and delays by texting “Start” to 85107. To unsubscribe text “Stop.”
In the Puget Sound region, weekend toll rates will be in effect Thursday, Nov. 23, on the State Route 520 bridge and SR 99 tunnel. The I-405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on Thanksgiving. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads and temporary account payment options on the Good To Go! visitors page .
People boarding a state ferry by vehicle should prepare for long waits. Peak travel times on most routes are expected to be westbound (or onto an island) Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 22-23, then eastbound (or off an island), Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24-25. Customers also can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger.
Visit the Washington State Ferries website for more details on sailings schedules, vehicle reservations, ferry alerts and terminal conditions.
Travelers making a trip by train, personal aircraft or bus also should plan ahead to avoid holiday delays:
- Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. Trains are running between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon, stopping at 18 stations along the way. Buses also are available for travel between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia and between Seattle and Bellingham. Visit www.AmtrakCascades.com/ or call 800-USA-RAIL for tickets and schedules.
- For information about traveling via state-sponsored airports, visit wsdot.wa.gov/travel/aviation/airports-list or call 360-788-7437.
- 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.