OLYMPIA – For those traveling during the Independence Day weekend, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) offers information about routes that typically see a marked increase in traffic volumes and tools to keep holiday travel headaches to a minimum.
WSDOT offers many ways for all drivers to know before they go, including a website with a variety of online tools and 511, the 24-hour traveler information line. Drivers should expect congestion and delays on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, US 2 over Stevens Pass, Interstate 5 near the U.S./Canadian border and I-5 between Olympia and Tacoma.
Work at most construction projects around the state will move off the highway from noon Friday, July 1, to Tuesday morning, July 5. Although there may not be any active construction over the holiday weekend, drivers should prepare for shifted lanes, roadway detours and reduced speed zones in places.
Drivers should expect longer-than-typical wait times at ferry docks and Canadian border crossings for most of the holiday weekend. Travel times are typically shorter Thursday and Tuesday, while ferry traffic starts building Thursday. Amtrak Cascades is very popular on holiday weekends. Travelers are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance and arrive early at the station for departure. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL for more information.
Know before you go:
· 511 - The driver information phone line provides current traffic, incident and closure information. TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388. Out-of-state callers can access the information by calling 1-800-695-ROAD (7623).
· On WSDOT’s travel website, www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic, drivers will find information such as traffic camera images from across the state, the Washington State Ferry (WSF) schedule and a map highlighting current highway incidents and closures.
· Go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/inform to see how WSDOT is providing traveler information using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook and via mobile devices. Drivers can also sign up for specialized email alerts.
On the road:
· Overhead and roadside electronic signs provide information about blocking incidents and other traffic delays
· Highway advisory radio - WSDOT advises drivers to program 530 AM and 1610 AM on their radios.
The following are areas where drivers may encounter delays over the holiday weekend:
Washington State Ferries
· WSF is planning in advance for heavy traffic this Fourth of July holiday weekend as many locals and tourists attend the various fireworks displays in the Puget Sound region, from Lopez Island to Point Defiance. The heaviest traffic is expected westbound Thursday, June 30, and Friday, July 2, and eastbound Monday, July 4. Sailing schedules will vary by route. For more summer schedule details and other ferry system information, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. To sign up for free e-mail alerts about service disruptions and other route information, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/email_alerts.
Local parades and festivals:
· Drivers headed into Seattle on Monday, July 4, should be prepared for heavy congestion and evening lane and ramp closures on southbound I-5. Closures begin up to one hour before the fireworks show on Lake Union. At approximately 9 p.m., WSDOT crews will begin closing the following:
o The southbound I-5 off-ramp to Roanoke Street
o The southbound I-5 on-ramp from Boylston Street
o The southbound I-5 off-ramp and the exit-only lane to Mercer Street
o All the ramps will be closed by 10 p.m. The ramps and lane will reopen when the fireworks show is over.
· State Route 12 will be closed through Oakville from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 2 for the Independence Day Parade. A detour will be in place.
· US 101 will be closed through Forks from 6:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. on July 2 and from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 4. A detour will be in place.
· US 101 will be closed through Port Angeles from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on July 4 for the Fourth of July Parade. A detour will be in place.
· Drivers can expect stop and go traffic on US 101 near the junction of SR 119/Hoodsport from July 1 to July 4. Traffic control will be in place.
· State Route 903 in Cle Elum will be closed from 9 a.m. to noon on July 4 for the Fourth of July Parade.
· The 16 state-operated airports are open for the season. To check the status of state-operated airports, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation/Airports/default.htm 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. To contact the flight service station, please call 1-800-WX-BRIEF. Temporary flight restriction information is available at: airspace.nifc.gov/mapping/nifc/index.cfm.
· Most public transit systems will follow a holiday schedule and some transit systems will not operate fixed route or Dial-A-Ride service on holidays. Check with the local transit agency for more information.