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Less than a week until Turkey Day, let’s talk traffic

Traffic heading north on I-5 the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2016.
Traffic heading north on I-5 the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2016. Olympian file photo

There will be delicious turkey, stuffing and maybe even pie — but first you have to get there. Here’s what to expect when you hit the road the week of Thanksgiving.

About Interstate 5: From Olympia, I-5 northbound to Tacoma will be stop-and-go from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Southbound from Tacoma to Olympia will be just as bad from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

Elsewhere: The worst time to travel in the Seattle metro area will be 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when commuters will mix with holiday travelers, according to AAA and the transportation analytics company INRIX.

They say the worst area will be Interstate 405 at Route 167.

It will cost you: AAA says drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014. In Washington, the average price hit $3 per gallon this week, up more than 30 cents compared with last year.

The national average is $2.56, up 40 cents compared with last year.

In the air: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will see 589,451 departing passengers the week of Thanksgiving, making it the 12th busiest airport in the country that week, according to InsureMyTrip and Hopper.

And, they say, domestic round-trip ticket prices this year are up 12 percent compared with last year.

Sea-Tac says its busiest days will be Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday after Thanksgiving. Plan accordingly.

In the mountains: WSDOT recommends drivers carry winter driving essentials and check chain and traction requirements. To get text alerts for delays 30 minutes or longer on Snoqualmie Pass, text “wsdot snoqualmie” to 468311.

Cayuse Pass, North Cascades Highway and Chinook Pass are all closed for winter.

And on the water: WSDOT predicts the longest lines for ferries will be westbound Wednesday and eastbound Friday morning. Reservations are recommended on the San Juan and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes.

Some good news: On Thanksgiving, the Route 520 bridge will have weekend toll rates and the I-405 express toll lanes will be free to all.

And some not good news: AccuWeather says we could be in for a wet week. Sea-Tac could see delays the Sunday before Thanksgiving due to a storm, while another storm is expected to arrive mid-week.

“While the potency of this storm is still in question, there is the potential for substantial rain-related travel delays with the storm along the I-5 corridor from Washington to northernmost California, as well as the risk of lowering snow levels over Snoqualmie Pass along I-90 in Washington,” AccuWeather said.

Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869, @AbbySpegman

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