SNOQUALMIE PASS, WA. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, for many people, Memorial Day is the first unofficial day of the start of the summer season, but also one of the busiest tourist days of the year.
If you’re planning to drive westbound through Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, you could be stuck in traffic for up to four hours.
“This is one of the busiest holidays of the year for I-90 and other state highways,” said Meaghan Lott, communications manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Memorial Day travel has been easy for the past three years, but this year WSDOT expects to double or even triple the number of people passing through the pass.
“Now that the pandemic has slowed down a bit, more people are leaving their homes,” Lott said. “Therefore, we expect more traffic than in the last 3 years.”
Washington State Patrol told me that they also expect more traffic and possibly more collisions, which is why they have more soldiers on the roads.
“We have soldiers on the road waiting for these calls,” Patrolman Chris Thorson of the Washington State Patrol said. “Just be polite, be nice, it will take you a little longer to get to your destination.”
A few tips Soldier Thorson gave me while I was in traffic…
“Don’t tail people, use your turn signals, adjust your speed if necessary,” Soldier Thorson said. “Bring some water and snacks in the car with you, maybe a few phone chargers in case you need help.”
Another thing that Private Thorson also said was to be patient.
On a typical day, between 20,000 and 30,000 vehicles pass through Snoqualmie Pass, but this weekend WSDOT expects more than 200,000 travelers. Much of the Memorial Day traffic is between Ellensburg and North Bend.
It is expected that the movement will last until 20:00.
WSDOT’s Lott suggested as traffic is expected to be heavy it might be worth considering traveling later on Memorial Day or leaving on Tuesday.