Need to know: The busiest Labor Day travel times

Sep 2, 2021, 5:28 AM | Updated: 7:36 am
labor day, traffic...
Traffic on Highway 2 near Monroe. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Logging off early to get a jump on Labor Day weekend travel?

It’s not a bad idea because travel times increase on both US 2 and I-90 in the eastbound direction by lunchtime on Friday.

Pandemic, protests, and crew shortages: No ordinary Labor Day for Washington State Ferries

If you’re trying to avoid traffic altogether, the Washington State Department of Transportation recommends leaving before 9 a.m. on US 2 and 8 a.m. on I-90.

If you’re headed back to the Seattle area from Eastern Washington on Sunday or Monday, try to get through areas of Cle Elum and North Bend by 8 a.m. if you dislike traffic. Travel times really skyrocket between noon and 5 p.m. on Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday.

Fortunately, for travelers trying to get through Seattle over the weekend, the Mariners will be away in Arizona and the Sounders don’t play at home again until Sept. 11 against Minnesota. However, there are plenty of other events to be mindful of around the Puget Sound region.

Weekend events

Washington State Fair – Puyallup

The Washington State Fair kicks off on Friday and runs Sept. 3-24 in Puyallup. That means I-5, Highways 512 and 167, and other routes south of Seattle will be packed with fair-goers. Kids ages 0-18 get free admission all weekend. The Steve Miller Band kicks off the concert series, with Carrie Underwood following on Saturday night, and Salt-N-Pepa taking the stage Sunday night.

Evergreen State Fair – Monroe

It’s the final weekend of the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. Zach Williams kicks off the concert series Thursday night, with Flor de Toloache following on Friday night. Tommy James and The Shondells were canceled. Expect to see slowdowns on Highway 522, as well as Highway 2.

Dave Matthews Band The Gorge

Dave Matthews Band performs at the Gorge on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Expect heavy traffic near Vantage and into George, along I-90 in both directions.

PAX WestWashington State Convention Center

Hundreds of gamers will descend on Seattle to check out PAX West over Labor Day Weekend (Friday to Monday). Expect delays downtown near the Convention Center and at I-5 off-ramps all weekend.

Pridefest Capitol Hill, Seattle

Capitol Hill is hosting two days of Pridefest over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.) with an aim at supporting LGBTQ artists who may have struggled during the pandemic. Look out for road closures and large crowds.

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Need to know: The busiest Labor Day travel times