Holiday travel prep is just as important as planning the big meal

  • Tue Nov 26th, 2019 1:30am
  • News

Submitted by Washington State Department of Transportation

Just like shopping, prepping the turkey and checking kick-off times before a big holiday gathering, the key to smooth Thanksgiving travel is planning ahead. Being prepared to call an audible for any delays doesn’t hurt either.

The Washington State Department of Transportation urges all travelers to “know before you go” and plan ahead for the busy holiday weekend. Staying informed also lets travelers react to any delays or other issues and still make it to the feast on time.

The agency suggests travelers do the following to prepare for holiday travels, consult WSDOT’s travel times charts, which use historical information to help drivers know before they go; check out online tools, including mobile apps, traffic cameras and email alerts; visit WSDOT’s online traveler information about traffic, weather and ferry schedules; Follow WSDOT’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook; pre-program 530 AM and 1610 AM to vehicle radios for highway advisory radio alerts; carry chains and other winter driving essentials; check current chain and traction requirements on the WSDOT mountain passes website or by calling 5-1-1, and watch for highway advisory signs; and leave extra time for holiday and winter travel, slow down and leave extra space between vehicles when driving on snow or ice.

Apple Cup travel

Those traveling to the Friday, Nov. 29, Apple Cup football game in Seattle should prepare for possible winter weather on passes and allow extra time if traveling Thursday evening and Friday morning as people make their way to the 1 p.m. game.

Thanksgiving travel rush

Plan for big crowds next week at our terminals and on our ferries as we all make our way to visit family and friends near and far. Many riders are expected to sail westbound Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 27, through Thursday morning, Nov. 28, and then eastbound Thursday afternoon through Friday, Nov. 29.

To reduce or eliminate wait times, consider walking on the ferry. Passenger capacity is far greater than vehicle capacity on all our ferries. Vehicle reservations are recommended on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes. Expect limited vehicle space on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route on Wednesday, Nov. 27 and Thursday, Nov. 28 as some evening sailings will be canceled due to tidal currents. As a reminder, no reservations are available to and from Sidney, British Columbia, as this route has been suspended through Sunday, Dec. 8 due to required maintenance on both vessels certified to sail international waters, the Elwha and Chelan.

Several routes will run on modified holiday schedules on Thanksgiving day, Nov. 28 so be sure to check the sailing schedule in advance.

Mountain passes

State Route 123 Cayuse Pass and SR 410 Chinook Pass close for the season at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, and will not be available for holiday travel. These passes close every winter due to avalanche danger, poor road conditions, lack of snow storage and no emergency response services within close proximity.

SR 20 North Cascades Highway remains open as of Wednesday, Nov. 20. Details about the road status and winter closure are available online and travelers should check that the pass is still open before heading out.

On Interstate 90, Snoqualmie Pass travelers can receive text alerts for pass delays of 30 minutes or longer – text “wsdot snoqualmie” to 468311 to subscribe, and “wsdot stop” to unsubscribe.

Tolls

In the Puget Sound area, the SR 520 bridge and SR 99 tunnel will have weekend toll rates on Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, returning to weekday rates on Friday, Nov. 29. On the I-405 express toll lanes, travel is free for everyone on the Thanksgiving holiday, returning to normal toll and HOV requirements from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29. Weekends are always free to travel in the express toll lanes. Out-of-town travelers, including those using rental cars, can learn about toll roads on the Good To Go! visitors page.

Traveling by ferry

Please plan ahead for heavy holiday ferry traffic and consider purchasing tickets online or walking onto ferries if possible to save time. The longest lines are expected westbound the afternoon/evening of Wednesday, Nov. 27 and on Thanksgiving morning. Eastbound, the longest lines are expected Thanksgiving afternoon and Friday morning, Nov. 29. Those driving onto ferries can sign up for vehicle wait time alerts and check terminal conditions online. Some ferry routes run on Saturday schedules on the holiday; check ferry schedules online or call 888-808-7977 for details.

Space is limited on the Port Townsend/Coupeville ferry route on Wednesday, Nov. 27, and Thursday, Nov. 28, due to tidal current cancellations of several evening sailings.

Canadian service is suspended through Sunday, Dec. 8, due to required maintenance on the vessels certified to run international service.

Other travel alternatives

Travelers planning a trip by train, personal aircraft or bus also should make plans to avoid holiday delays:

Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. There are no extra Thanksgiving trains this year. Oregon’s trains will run on their weekend schedule Wednesday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 1. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations and trains fill up quickly during holidays. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/ for reservation and schedule details or call 800–USA–RAIL.

Information about traveling via state-operated airports is available online or call 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.