Aug 30, 2023 - News

"Pack your patience" for Labor Day travel in Washington state

Illustration of a road sign with a snail icon on it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Labor Day is one of the state's two biggest weekends for cross-state holiday travel, and that means traffic congestion and delays, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

Driving the news: Generally, people start fleeing Seattle around midday on Friday and then race back to the city on Sunday or Monday between noon and 6pm, WSDOT spokesperson Summer Derrey told Axios.

  • On Interstate 90, the state's busiest thoroughfare, traffic volumes are expected to nearly double from about 27,000 vehicles per day between North Bend and Ellensburg to around 50,000, Derrey said.
  • The two other routes that historically see high holiday traffic are U.S. 2 between Skykomish and Stevens Pass and Interstate 5 between Lacey and Tacoma, per WSDOT.

Plus: Long wait times and possible cancellations are possible at ferry terminals, according to Washington State Ferries. Elevated westbound travel is expected Thursday through Saturday and high eastbound ridership is expected on Sunday and Monday.

  • Monday is expected to be the busiest day at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with 190,000 travelers, per the Port of Seattle.

What to do: "Pack your patience," said Derrey and think of your time en route as its own long-term event.

  • Pack water, snacks, extra clothes and phone chargers for the people on board.
  • Also, make sure you've topped off the gas tank and that there are chains on hand if you're heading over a pass.

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