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How to beat Thanksgiving travel this week

It’s Thanksgiving week, and that means traffic with increased congestion all over Washington state. Here’s a little survival guide for you to consider.

Sea-Tac Airport

I’m going to start with getting to-and-from Sea-Tac Airport. I know some of you are picking people up. Others are getting out of town. Sea-Tac expects nearly a million people to travel through the airport this week between Tuesday and next Monday. That’s going to make an already busy drive into the airport close to unbearable.

Don’t forget the trick I told you about a few weeks ago. If you’re using the cell phone lot at the airport, try taking a right turn out of the lot when it’s busy. It’s a three mile drive, but it will likely be faster than waiting.

The airport’s Jeff Hoevet also suggested that you think opposite when approaching the arrivals or departures roadway.

“We even have signs that go up that say ‘departures congested, arrivals available or arrivals congested, departures available,’ but it’s think opposite,” he said.

And be sure to give yourself extra time to make your flight. Security lines are going to long.

The roads

Moving on to driving, which is the way most of us are going to be getting around this week. My travel mantra this week is “go early or go late.”

Get an early start if you’re leaving Wednesday. If you’re heading east on I-90, you can expect major congestion from about 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. There will be an average of 2,500 cars an hour on that stretch. That’s more than double a typical Wednesday.

Heading south on I-5 from Tacoma will be even worse. The Washington Department of Transportation expects heavier than normal congestion between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday. You might want to consider traveling on Thanksgiving itself.

Be sure to think about traffic on the return trip on Sunday. It will be bad, especially on the westbound I-90 drive from Eastern Washington.

Thrown into the mix this week is one of the most anticipated Apple Cup’s in a while. The Pac-12 North title is on the line, and this year the game is in Pullman on Friday.

That will add extra cars to the I-90 eastbound drive out of Seattle, especially late on Thanksgiving and early on Friday.

The state should have picked-up the barrels east of Snoqualmie Pass through Easton, but drivers will still have to get through the complete closure of Highway 26 near Othello, which is the straightest route to Pullman. The bridge replacement project is running a little behind, and the detour will add significant time to your drive to Pullman.

Check WSDOT’s estimated traffic for the best and worst times on specific routes around Washington.

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