It will cost an added nickel per gallon to drive across Washington state this holiday weekend. Go early to avoid congestion.
When drivers cross Washington state this Independence Day, they’ll be seeing taxation with representation, as gasoline prices rise to support bigger highways.
The price rises Friday by 4.9 cents per gallon, following a 7-cent boost on Aug. 1, 2015.
Among statewide projects, the extra money will complete the western Highway 520 bridge segments in Seattle, a widening of Interstate 405 from Bellevue to Renton, and a Highway 167 extension from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma.
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Gas prices Wednesday in Washington state averaged $2.64 a gallon, according to gasbuddy.com.
Yet the state ranks 42nd in overall driving conditions, including cost and delays, says carinsurance.com.
This weekend, just one major construction job will hinder traffic: the repainting of Interstate 90 over the Columbia River in Vantage, Kittitas County, in the middle of the state. One of two eastbound lanes will stay closed.
It would have cost $80,000 to remove a mile of concrete barriers for the sake of holiday drivers, said spokeswoman Summer Derrey of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). So they’ll stay put.
Painting will be completed on the overhead, steel-arch span this fall.
The good news, says Derrey, is that volumes on I-90 are usually lighter July 4 weekend than Memorial Day weekend because families are more flexible with their travel schedules, such as taking an extra day off.
“Because kids are on summer break, it (traffic) tends to spread out a little bit more,” she said.
To avoid slowdowns and choke points, drive early in the morning.
Based on past trends, the slowest time to drive Snoqualmie Pass will be Friday afternoon and midday Saturday eastbound, then the entire afternoon Monday westbound, when stop-and-go conditions are likely.
Interstate 5 from Tacoma to Olympia can be jammed as many as eight hours per day.
Throngs of Canadians will enter Washington at Blaine on Saturday, then return north Sunday and Monday afternoons.
Traffic in Seattle might be hazardous Monday, when motorists weave toward picnics and the big Seafair Summer Fourth fireworks show. Sound Transit’s new Capitol Hill Station provides an option to driving for people seeking the rockets’ glare above Lake Union, and the South Lake Union streetcar usually sees high ridership.
July 4 is nationally the most dangerous traffic day of the year, because of drunken drivers.
Washington averages seven road deaths over the Independence Day weekend, about half caused by drugs and alcohol.
WSDOT traffic alerts are at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Construction/PugetSound/GetAround.htm
|As of July 1, 2016, including federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon|
|3.||New York||60.7 cents|
|U.S. average**||48 cents|
|* California approximation includes sales taxes that vary with gas prices, and by location. ** U.S. average is for April 1, 2016.Sources: American Petroleum Institute, California Energy Commission, USA Today and Washington State Department of Revenue.|