Heavy traffic on Interstate 5 and other Washington highways is expected throughout Labor Day weekend this year. But depending on when you travel, the worst congestion may be avoidable.
Traffic analysts at the Washington State Department of Transportation have put together forecasts for how many cars they expect to be on the roads for the weekend.
Traffic charts and forecasts are available at WSDOT for Sept. 2 through Sept. 7 for Highway 2 between Skykomish and Stevens Pass, Interstate 90 between North Bend and Cle Elum, Kittitas County, and Interstate 5 between Lacey, Thurston County, and Tacoma.
Washington State Ferries has also warned that Labor Day may see cancellations as well as long lines. Travelers are advised to choose early or late sailings or consider walking aboard to avoid the car lineups, WSF said.
There are no forecasts available for travel to the U.S.-Canadian border, since the border has not been open long enough to provide good analysis, WSDOT said.
Here is when traffic is expected to be heaviest:
- On Highway 2, eastbound congestion or stop and go traffic is expected between noon and 4 p.m. Friday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and around 11 a.m. Sunday. Westbound congestion is forecast for between 4 and 6 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday.
- Interstate 90 is expected to see the heaviest eastbound traffic between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. Westbound traffic is forecast to be heaviest between noon and 5 p.m. Sunday and between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday.
- Northbound Interstate 5 will likely see heavy traffic from Thursday to Monday. Congestion is expected to start between 5 and 6 a.m. Thursday and Friday and between 9 and 10 a.m. Saturday through Monday. In the evening, traffic on northbound Interstate 5 will likely last until around 6 p.m. Saturday and around 8 p.m. Sunday.
- Southbound Interstate 5 is forecast to see similar levels of congestion starting between 7 and 8 a.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Tuesday and beginning around 10 a.m. Sunday and Monday. The heaviest congestion is forecast to end around 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Tuesday and around 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday and Monday.