Between heavy holiday traffic, Friday's Apple Cup showdown in Pullman and expected wintry weather, travelers will face challenges over the next few days. Here are some options to help plan an easier trip.

Share story

Highways across Washington will be jammed beginning Wednesday as drivers travel for the Thanksgiving holiday and wintry weather makes driving conditions more challenging.

Travelers should expect lengthy delays on Interstate 90 and Interstate 5, and long wait times at ferry docks and the border crossing between the United States and Canada, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

Weather may add further delays. The National Weather Service is forecasting a shift in the weather Wednesday to rain, wind and snow in the mountain passes by Friday.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., NHL Seattle, PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company, Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

Learn more about Traffic Lab » | Follow us on Twitter »

On Interstate 90 between North Bend and Cle Elum, traffic will be heaviest on Wednesday in the eastbound direction and Sunday in the eastbound and westbound directions. Here are the travel times to most avoid, according to WSDOT:

  • Wednesday, eastbound: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, westbound: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, westbound: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, eastbound: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, westbound: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Highway 2 between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth, moderate to heavy traffic should be expected in the mornings on Friday and Saturday in the eastbound direction and on Sunday in the westbound direction.

On Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Olympia, drivers should expect heavy congestion and stop-and-go traffic at times both northbound and southbound between Wednesday and Sunday. It’s going to be crowded the whole weekend, but here’s when you’ll want to try to stay off the highway:

  • Wednesday, northbound: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, southbound: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, northbound: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, southbound: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Friday, northbound: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday, southbound: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, northbound: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, southbound: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, northbound: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, southbound: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Interstate 5 near the U.S. and Canada border, traffic may be at its worst northbound on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In Seattle, public transportation will operate on modified schedules.

Sound Transit‘s Link light rail and express buses will run on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, light rail will run on a Saturday schedule and express buses will run on a typical weekday schedule.

King County Metro will provide bus service on a Sunday schedule Thanksgiving Day. Metro named the day after Thanksgiving Mark McLaughlin Day, after the Metro employee who was killed while driving Route 359 over the Aurora Bridge in 1998. Buses will run on a reduced weekday schedule Friday.

Meanwhile, drivers in Spokane, Whitman, Adams, Grant and Kittitas counties should be extra cautious. Washington State Patrol troopers will be running an emphasis patrol through Sunday, focusing on holiday travelers and on fans heading to Pullman for the Apple Cup on Friday.

WSDOT encourages drivers to plan ahead for smoother travel. Complete estimated travel times, based on historical information, are available on the agency’s website.

Updated traffic information is available through WSDOT’s traffic app and on its Twitter feed.