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What’s the best time to travel on Labor Day weekend?

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Sep. 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm with No Comments »
October 1, 2011 1:40 pm

If you’re trying to get out of town for one last summer trip, your best bet to avoid congestion is to start very early or wait until evening. That’s according to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s traffic predictions for Labor Day weekend. WSDOT put together these handy charts to help plan a quick escape – or at least prepare yourself for traffic snarls.

Here’s the chart for Friday for the dreaded I-5 stretch between Tacoma and Olympia.

For more days and routes, including I-90, Stevens Pass and the Canadian border, check out WSDOT’s website.

Below is some more travel advice from the DOT:

OLYMPIA – Labor Day is the year’s busiest travel weekend over Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, and it’s not the only location in Washington that will feel the strain of additional travelers. To ease the pain, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) offers several travel information tools to help drivers plan ahead.

Travelers planning to hit Washington’s state highways can find information on the WSDOT website about the times and places drivers will likely see Labor Day weekend delays , including US 2, I-90, I-5 at the Canadian border and I-5 south of Olympia through Lewis County.

And while AAA predicts a decline in overall travel (which includes aircraft, roadway, trains, watercraft, multi-modal travel), the motor club predicts close to 27.3 million people will travel the nation’s roadways this Labor Day holiday weekend, a slight increase compared with 2010.

Drivers can expect significantly better travel times in most areas Thursday, Sept. 1, and on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Work at most construction sites around the state will move off the highways for Labor Day weekend. Even so, drivers should watch for shifted lanes, detours and reduced-speed zones.

WSDOT offers many ways to know before you go:
Dial 511 – This driver information phone line provides current traffic, incident and closure information. TTY users can call 800-833-6388. Out-of-state callers can access the information at 800-695-ROAD (7623).
On WSDOT’s travel website, , drivers can see information such as camera images and maps showing highway incidents and closures.
Go to to see how WSDOT provides traveler information on social media (Twitter, Facebook) and for mobile devices. You can also sign up for specialized email alerts.

On the road, WSDOT provides real-time traffic updates on overhead and roadside electronic signs and on Highway Advisory Radio on AM channels 530 and 1610.

Travelers should also be aware:

Washington State Ferries expects a busy holiday weekend. Ferry riders should consider traveling during off-peak times, and they should check the schedules and ferry information on the Washington State Ferries’ website at or by calling toll-free at 888-808-7977.
Amtrak Cascades trains are filling up quickly. Make your reservations at or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL and enjoy a relaxing trip.
Most public transit systems will follow a holiday schedule, and some transit systems will not operate fixed route or Dial-A-Ride service on Labor Day. Check with your local transit agency for more information.
Washington’s 16 state-operated airports are open for the season. To check the status of state-operated airports, visit: or call 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 800-WX-BRIEF. Temporary flight restriction information is available at:

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