OLYMPIA – Labor Day often heralds the final moments of summer before fall activities begin. For people who plan to travel on the popular three-day weekend, now is the time to make travel plans and expect congestion on most routes.
The Washington State Department of Transportation encourages travelers to consult the holiday traffic volume charts to determine best times to travel, including times to avoid if possible. The Interstate 5 Canadian border forecast is not included due to unreliable pandemic travel data the last several years. Travel charts are based on 2019 pre-pandemic volumes.
Travelers should also check ahead for any COVID-19 safety requirements at their destinations or stops along the way.
By following these steps, travelers can “know before they go” and plan ahead, whether they’re just traveling across town or across the state:
- 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 social media, which includes several Twitter accounts and a Facebook page.
- Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
- Call 5-1-1 for updated road conditions.
- Have a backup outdoor destination as parks and other outdoor recreation sites tend to fill up quickly on holiday weekends. If a site’s parking is full, never park along road shoulders, as this is unsafe for everyone on the roadway.
- Allow extra time for travel to avoid rushing or distraction.
Highway construction paused
Most state highway construction work is suspended through the holiday weekend – including Monday, Sept. 5 – to ease congestion. However, please stay alert for new lane shifts or work zone staging areas that may remain in place. And please give any emergency repair crews plenty of space to work safely.
No construction is planned on I-90 from Friday, Sept. 2, until to Tuesday, Sept. 6. However, the usual holiday increase in traffic volumes means travelers should expect delays, especially eastbound on Friday and westbound on Monday (see charts for more detail). Text message alerts about significant delays are available by texting the words “WSDOT Snoqualmie” to 468311.
In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, Sept. 5, 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 the Monday holiday. 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 Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 1-3, and eastbound, Sunday through Tuesday, Sept. 4-6. Customers also can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger.
- All riders should double check the sailing schedules as some routes are operating on timetables that are different than prior to the pandemic.
- Visit the Washington State Ferries website for more details on vehicle reservations, ferry email alerts, checking terminal conditions and COVID-19 travel updates.
Trains, airports and transit
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 should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations. The federal CDC still recommends wearing face masks on indoor transit, but they are no longer required. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
For information about flying via Washington state airports, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/travel/aviation/airports-list. For questions regarding WSDOT-sponsored airports, email Paul Wolf, State Airport Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.