Plan ahead for hassle-free holiday travel, WSDOT says

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What’s the best present travelers can give to themselves and their families this holiday? Planning ahead to ensure safe, smooth travel whether going across town or across the state.

By following these steps, drivers can be celebrating with family and friends, instead of sitting on a freeway:

· Check the Washington State Department of Transportation’s best times to travel charts. Three-day Christmas weekends are rare, but WSDOT analysts have used their best historical data to predict holiday travel times.
· Get informed about WSDOT’s online tools, including mobile apps, traffic cameras and email alerts.
· Visit online traveler information for traffic, weather and ferry schedules.
· Follow WSDOT’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook.
· Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
· Carry chains and other winter driving essentials. Check current chain and traction requirements on the WSDOT passes website, highway advisory signs or by calling 5-1-1.
· Leave extra time for holiday and winter travel and drive safe.

Most state highway construction work is suspended through the holiday weekend – including Monday, Dec. 26 – to ease congestion.

In the mountains, the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), Chinook (State Route 410) and Cayuse (junction of State Routes 123 and 410) passes have closed for the winter. On Interstate 90 Snoqualmie Pass (elevation 3,022), motorists can now receive texts about any major delays by texting the words “wsdot snoqualmie” to the number 468311.

In the Puget Sound, weekend toll rates will be in effect on Monday, Dec. 26, on the State Route 520 bridge and the Interstate 405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers on that day as well.

Travelers making a trip by ferry, train, personal aircraft or bus also should plan ahead to avoid holiday delays:
· Anticipate heavy ferry traffic for the holiday and plan accordingly. The longest lines are expected westbound Friday, Dec. 23, and Saturday, Dec. 24, and eastbound Monday, Dec. 26. Check the Washington State Ferries website, www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/, or call toll-free 888-808-7977 for details. Customers can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as a walk-on passenger, if that is an option.
· Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. All Amtrak Cascades trains require reservations. Visit www.amtrakcascades.com/ or call 800–USA–RAIL for details.

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