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Friday, November 18, 2011
Alice Fiman, WSDOT Communications, 360-705-7080 (Olympia)
OLYMPIA – As the holidays draw near and temperatures drop, the Washington State Department of Transportation has tips on how to be ready for winter weather driving and avoid Thanksgiving holiday weekend highway backups.
WSDOT has many online tools to help drivers. Once on the road, monitor roadside information signs and radio advisories, or team up with a passenger to find information on our website or by calling 511.
Those traveling to the Spokane area and through the Palouse area should expect snow today, with temperatures dropping overnight into the teens late Friday into Saturday. If possible, drivers are encouraged to travel Palouse-area roadways Sunday, after temperatures are expected to increase above freezing.
Collisions caused by drivers who are unprepared for winter weather cause delays for everyone. Just one traffic collision or disabled vehicle can cause backups stretching for miles during winter storms and already-congested holiday weekends.
Drivers can expect heavy preholiday commutes out of metropolitan areas and during holiday parades and events, and if winter weather strikes it can add to travel times. WSDOT also offers information on when drivers likely will see Thanksgiving holiday travel delays on major routes, including Interstate 90, US 2, I-5 at the Canadian border and I-5 north of Olympia into Tacoma.
To give drivers a break from construction delays, work at most construction project sites around the state will move off the highway by noon Wednesday, Nov. 23, and restart Monday morning, Nov. 28. In some construction zones, drivers should be prepared for shifted lanes, roadway detours and reduced speed zones.
Know before you go
- WSDOT offers several ways to get up-to-date traffic and construction information from our website before you leave your home or office.
- Look at weather forecasts and road temperatures throughout the state.
- Carry chains and know the traction and chain requirements. Mountain pass traction and chain requirements are available on the WSDOT website, highway advisory signs and highway advisory radio.
- Sign up for news and social media tools, such as Twitter or find out how to download the WSDOT mobile applications.
- See more winter preparedness tips at http://www.takewinterbystorm.org/.
- Program 530 AM and 1610 AM on your radio before you leave.
- Call 511. WSDOT’s driver information phone line provides real-time traffic, incident and closure information. Out-of-state callers can dial 1-800-695-ROAD (7623). TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388.
On the road
- Overhead and roadside electronic signs provide emergency and incident alerts and, in some Seattle-area locations during rush hours, point-to-point travel times.
- Highway advisory radio allows drivers to tune in to hear updates when the flashing lights along the highway are activated.
Mountain Pass Highways
- SR 410 Chinook Pass (elevation 5,430 feet) is closed from Morse Creek (five miles east of the summit) to Crystal Mountain Boulevard (eight miles northwest of the summit). Access to the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort on eastbound SR 410 remains open.
- SR 123 Cayuse Pass is closed within Mount Rainier National Park from the 4,675-foot Cayuse Pass summit to Stevens Canyon Road.
- SR 20 North Cascades Highway (elevation 5,477 feet) is closed from milepost 134, east of Diablo, and on the east side at milepost 171, which is 14 miles west of Mazama.
Puget Sound-area highways
- Heavy traffic is expected eastbound on SR 16 near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll plaza on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and again between 5 and 11 p.m. Good To Go! customers should stay in the left-hand lanes as they pass the toll plaza.
- Heavy traffic is expected the morning of Friday, Nov. 25, at the I-5 exits to downtown Seattle as people make their way to the annual Macy’s Holiday Parade.
- Congestion is expected in downtown Seattle Saturday Nov. 26, as the UW and WSU football teams play in the annual Apple Cup at CenturyLink Field.
- The Seattle Marathon will close ramps on I-5 and SR 520 along with the I-5 and I-90 express lanes on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Amtrak Rail Services
The week of Thanksgiving is typically Amtrak’s busiest travel period of the year. Amtrak will add 11 trains along the Amtrak Cascades route between Portland and Seattle to accommodate the travel demand during the holiday week, Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27. In addition, Amtrak will operate three non-stop roundtrip Thruway motor coaches between Portland and Seattle. Amtrak is also adding a Thruway motor coach connection from Bellingham to Seattle for the Coast Starlight trains, 11 and 14, on Wednesday and Sunday. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations and passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early to obtain lowest fares. Visit http://www.amtrakcascades.com/ or call 800-USA-RAIL for reservations and information.
Washington State Ferries
Heavy traffic is expected on all ferry routes through the weekend, some routes are on a revised holiday schedule, and tidal conditions will change travel times. Travelers should plan ahead and check routes and times before leaving. Schedules are available online and at terminals and vessels. All other routes will be on their regular weekday schedule. The longest lines to catch a ferry are expected westbound Wednesday afternoon and evening, Nov. 23, and eastbound Friday morning, Nov. 25. Real-time ferry traffic information and wait times are available by signing up for route-specific email alerts and checking the Coupeville and Port Townsend terminal websites.
To check the status of state-operated airports, visit the state aviation website or call 1-800-552-0666. WSDOT Aviation encourages pilots to check with their local Flight Service Station for current Notices to Airmen and temporary flight restriction status before each flight.
On Thanksgiving, transit systems will follow a holiday schedule or will not operate fixed route and Dial-A-Ride services. On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, many transit systems will operate on a limited schedule. Check with your local transit agency for more information.
WSDOT keeps people, businesses and the economy moving by operating and improving the state's transportation systems. To learn more about what we're doing, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/news for pictures, videos, news and blogs. Real time traffic information is available at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/ or by dialing 511.
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