SEATTLE – The state is warning drivers who are traveling for Thanksgiving to be ready for extra traffic congestion and for snow over the mountain passes.
The Washington State Department of Transportation says just one collision or a disabled vehicle can cause backups that are miles long during winter storms. That would add to gridlock already on the highways due to double the normal volume of traffic at times.
Watch for highway advisories about chain requirements on the mountain passes. Failing to chain up when required can bring a $500 penalty. Vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds are required to carry chains until April 1.
The state has released charts showing the busiest commute times on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, Highway 2 over Stevens Pass and Interstate 5 approaching the Canadian border and between Tacoma and Olympia.
To help with the congestion, the state will suspend all road work at noon Wednesday. It will resume Monday, although speed limits in those zones may remain lowered.
For those who have never put on tire chains, WSDOT has put together this how-to video on YouTube. Drivers are also encouraged to program their radios to 530AM and 1610AM for travel updates and to pack an emergency kit in case they run into problems.
State ferries are expected to be jammed and drivers should expect longer wait times, especially westbound Wednesday afternoon and evening and eastbound Friday morning.
For those staying closer to Puget Sound, WSDOT warns that heavy traffic is expected on eastbound State Route 16 near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll plaza on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and again between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Heavy traffic is also expected on I-5 in Seattle for people headed to the Macy’s Holiday Parade on Friday, the Apple Cup at CenturyLink Field Saturday and the Seattle Marathon Sunday.