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Thanksgiving weekend travel guide for western Washington

Congestion for the Thanksgiving holiday is expected no matter what mode of transportation you choose.

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and with it comes a lot of people traveling by planes, trains, automobiles, and even ferries around western Washington. 

Here's a roundup of what you can expect if you're traveling for the holiday.


The busiest times at security checkpoints are usually from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., as a highly concentrated number of flights depart during this period. Mid-afternoon and evenings will also be busy.

TSA recommends getting to the airport early to combat crowds. The agency will be utilizing overtime to extend the shifts of its officers, opening as many security lanes as possible during peak times.


Be aware of tolling, the SR 520 bridge and SR 99 tunnel will have weekend toll rates on Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, returning to weekday rates on Friday, Nov. 29. On the I-405 express toll lanes, travel is free for everyone on the Thanksgiving holiday, returning to normal toll and HOV requirements from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29.

WSDOT has travel time charts, which use historical data to help drivers estimate their commute time. Tuning your radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM will also give you real-time traffic alerts as they happen. For those in the passenger seat, help out your driver by downloading a mobile app or checking traffic cameras.

RELATED: Thanksgiving drive times: Best and worst times to travel in western Washington


Seattle's King Street Station is preparing for big crowds now through Sunday. Last year, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Amtrak saw a 33% increase in train ridership. Nationally, Amtrak had its highest ridership ever with more than 846,000 riders on trains across the country.

Phyllis and Steven Zenz, who are travelling to Oregon, said they prefer the train over other modes of transportation.

"Trains obviously take longer, but we're retired we have the time, and it's fun," Steven said. "You got a lot more mobility, and you're not elbow to elbow."

Amtrak is prepared to accommodate the increase in passengers during the holiday season with extra trains and seats available for purchase.


Edmonds, Kingston, Mukilteo, Clinton and Fauntleroy terminals are expected to see the longest wait times in the system during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Tomorrow through Sunday, ferry officials expect 350,000 riders, which is about 50,000 more than a regular week. Most travelers will be sailing westbound from Seattle.

Expect to wait in line for an hour, sometimes more.

Officials recommend checking Vessel Watch on the WSDOT website or getting their app in order to keep up with wait times.

Or, you could ditch the car and walk on to avoid ferry traffic almost all together.


Sound Transit is providing free Link Light Rail rides to and from Husky Stadium for the Apple Cup on Friday, Nov. 29 for those who show their UW or WSU ID. Expect crowds, cues, and long lines when using public transportation.

For those WSU students who may be coming from eastern Washington, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) has increased patrols running through Dec. 1. WSP encourages travelers to be prepared for winter conditions and will be watching to ensure drivers are being safe.

RELATED: Apple Cup guide: 5 things to know before Huskies, Cougars game

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