What’s the best present travelers can give to themselves and their families this holiday? Planning ahead to ensure safe, smooth travel whether going across town or across the state.
Most state highway construction work is suspended through the holiday weekend – including Monday, Dec. 26 – to ease congestion.
In the mountains, the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), Chinook (State Route 410) and Cayuse (junction of State Routes 123 and 410) passes have closed for the winter. On Interstate 90 Snoqualmie Pass (elevation 3,022), motorists can now receive texts about any major delays by texting the words “wsdot snoqualmie” to the number 468311.
In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, Dec. 26, on the State Route 520 bridge and the Interstate 405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on that day as well.
Travelers making a trip by ferry, train, personal aircraft or bus also should plan ahead to avoid holiday delays:
By following these steps, drivers can be celebrating with family and friends, instead of sitting on a freeway:
- Check the Washington State Department of Transportation’s best times to travel charts. Three-day Christmas weekends are rare, but WSDOT analysts have used their best historical data to predict holiday travel times.
- Get informed about WSDOT’s online tools, including mobile apps, traffic cameras and email alerts.
- Visit online traveler information for traffic, weather and ferry schedules.
- Follow WSDOT’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
- Carry chains and other winter driving essentials. Check current chain and traction requirements on the WSDOT passes website, highway advisory signs or by calling 5-1-1.
- Leave extra time for holiday and winter travel and drive safe.
Anticipate heavy ferry traffic for the holiday and plan accordingly. The longest lines are expected westbound Friday, Dec. 23, and Saturday, Dec. 24, and eastbound Monday, Dec. 26. Check the Washington State Ferries website, www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/, or call toll-free 888-808-7977 for details. Customers can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger, if that is an option.
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. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/ or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
For information about state-operated airports, visit online: www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation/airports/Amenities.htm or call 800-552-0666.
– Washington State Department of Transportation
Sea-Tac expects record number of travelers over holiday season
The Port of Seattle reports travelers will be going through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in record numbers this holiday season and it may be best to consider options other than driving directly up to the airport for drop offs/pick-ups. From Dec. 18 to Jan. 3, more than 2 million travelers are projected to go through Sea-Tac. The airport is on pace to set a 2016 passenger total record of 46 million, nearly nine percent higher than 2015.
Sound Transit Link light rail is an easy and environmentally friendly way to avoid airport traffic. The trip from Downtown Seattle takes around 30 minutes, which clearly beats rush hour traffic. Another option: drop off/pick up at a Sound Transit station. The Angle Lake Station, at 200th Street and International Blvd offers free parking (up to 24 hours) and is an easy meet up point.
Avoid north entrance of airport parking garage – use south (182nd Street) entrance
For just $3 for the first hour, park and drop off or pick up guests while avoiding arrivals and departures traffic using the not as busy Sea-Tac parking garage 182nd Street entrance at International Blvd.
Think opposite during peak periods: Pickup on departure drive, drop-off on arrivals drive during peak periods. For pick-ups use the departure (upper ticketing level). For drop-offs, use the arrivals drive (lower bag claim) and travelers only have to go up one level to ticketing. The busiest times are mornings for departures (upper) and evenings for arrivals (lower).
Sea-Tac airport is offering a reduced weekly rate of $130 in General Parking. No extra taxes or fees. That’s a tremendous savings of two days free for a seven day trip.
Don’t wrap carry-on gifts. Keep the TSA lines moving and don’t place wrapped gifts in carry-on bags.
– Port of Seattle
Kitsap Transit holiday schedule
In observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Kitsap Transit will not operate service on Monday, Dec. 26 and Monday, Jan. 2.
In addition, PSNS Worker/Driver buses and the #19 Crossroads Shuttle bus will not operate Dec. 27 through Dec. 30 during the holiday shipyard closure.
The Annapolis/Bremerton Foot Ferry will operate on regular schedule the Dec. 27-30.
– Kitsap Transit