Roads will be full with holiday travelers

The Associated PressMay 24, 2013 

Plan to drive this weekend? Expect company.

State transportation officials call Memorial Day weekend the year’s busiest for Interstate 90, with an average of 187,000 cars crossing Snoqualmie Pass.

“Be prepared to run into some traffic,” said Meagan McFadden, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Most of the traffic will head east away from Puget Sound on Friday evening and back to the west side on Monday evening, with some Tuesday, McFadden said.

To make as much room on the road as possible, all Transportation Department construction crews will suspend work on I-90, McFadden said.

Satus Pass, on U.S. 97 south of Yakima, will be a different story.

Traffic will be limited to one lane, guided by a pilot car over the Satus Creek Bridge, according to the department’s website. Backups will run about 20 minutes round the clock.

Meanwhile, Washington State Patrol authorities recommend planning ahead, checking lights, wiper blades and tires before traveling. Allow extra time and check out road conditions, troopers said in a news release.

Weather forecasts call for chances of rain and snow showers on Snoqualmie Pass.

Troopers are planning extra patrols on mountain passes through the summer, said Lt. Tom Foster of the Yakima District of the State Patrol.

Meanwhile, the State Patrol also has extra troopers out every evening during the Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign, Foster said.

"We will have 14 troopers working emphasis patrols over the holiday weekend in Thurston and Pierce counties," said Trooper Guy Gill. "My advice to holiday drivers is buckle up, drive sober, put your phone down and drive safe. "Together, let's make this a safe weekend for everyone."

Fuel prices are down compared with last year by about 23 cents per gallon to a $4.01 average in Washington, according to a news release from AAA.

AAA predicts 9 out of 10 Memorial Day weekend travelers will use their cars this weekend, putting 31.2 million people on the roads. That’s up from 31.1 million last year.

Drivers also are expected to go farther this year, traveling an average of about 690 miles, 48 more miles more than last year, predicted AAA based on surveys of intending travelers.

Air travel will be down by 8 percent, to 2.3 million.

The Yakima Herald-Republic contributed to this report.

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