Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Day weekend traffic recap: Fewer drivers? Really?

While those of you who sat through the backups may not believe it, the numbers I received from our Traffic Operations show there were actually fewer drivers who crossed I-90 Snoqualmie Pass this Memorial Day weekend.

Besides Snoqualmie Pass, we highlight three other areas across the state (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/News/2010/05/20_Memorial_Day_Travel_2010.htm) for holiday travel. Of those, traffic decreased from 2009 in two areas (I-5 through Lewis County and US 2 over Stevens Pass) and increased slightly in one (I-5 near the Canadian Border).

So, you ask, if there were 12,000 (or 5.8 percent) fewer vehicles over I-90, why was I going so slow? Friday, it was a collision that led to the eastbound backup. I wish I had a simple answer for the Monday traffic. Wow, that 27-mile westbound backup was really something.

Part of the issue is the time those 187,000 vehicles traveled. As you see in the graphs below, more people were on I-90 during "peak" hours, while not as many traveled in off-peak hours. Other theories include the type of vehicles on the road - recreational vehicles and those towing trailers or boats just don't accelerate as quick.

As you look forward to your travels this summer, we will have our forecasts available for the next two "long" weekends - Fourth of July and Labor Day, so please check them out and take notice of the peak travel times. As for other weekends? Use the tools we have available on our website and the 5-1-1 hotline. Know before you go and watch the highways signs.

Memorial Day 2010 travel weekend:

I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass
  • 187,000 vehicles traveled both directions of Snoqualmie Pass between Friday and Monday, an decrease of 12,000 vehicles or 5.8 percent from 2009.
  • 55,000 traveled Friday, a decrease of 3.4 percent from 2009, with most of the decrease in the afternoon.
  • 2,700 fewer vehicles traveled Saturday.
  • 3,200 fewer vehicles traveled Sunday.
  • 53,000 traveled Monday, and decrease of 6.3 percent from 2009, with most of the decrease in volumes in the evening hours (hence the backups).
I-5, Bellingham to US Canadian border
  • Friday through Monday there were 118,000 vehicles on I-5. This was an increase of 3,000 vehicles (3 percent) when compared to 2009.
  • 33,700 traveled Friday, 174 less.
  • 30,400 traveled Saturday, 1000 more.
  • 29,300 traveled Sunday, 2,000 more.
  • 25,000 traveled Monday, 200 more.

I-5, Olympia to Chehalis (Thurston/Lewis county line)
  • Friday through Monday there were 254,600 vehicles on I-5. This was a decrease of 15,000 vehicles (6 percent) when compared to 2009. Maybe the rain?
  • 73,700 vehicle traveled Friday, 5,400 less.
  • 67,600 vehicle traveled Saturday, 4,600 less.
  • 54,300 vehicle traveled Sunday, with 3,600 less.
  • 63,600 vehicle traveled Monday, 1,400 less.

US 2, Stevens Pass
  • Friday through Monday there were 35,500 vehicles on US 2. This was a decrease of 2,700 vehicles (7 percent) when compared to 2009.
  • 9,700 vehicle traveled Friday, 290 less.
  • 7,000 vehicle traveled Saturday, 1,300 less.
  • 8,300 vehicle traveled Sunday, with 400 less.
    10,200 vehicle traveled Monday, with 700 less.
Click on graph to view larger:





2 comments:

Dustin Terpening said...

My wife hypothesized that everyone returned to western Washington via I-90 at the same time Sunday evening b/c they were waiting as long as possible before having to return to the cold, wet weather. They needed every ounce of vitamin D they could get from the sun on the east side of the state.

Jason said...

"Other theories include the type of vehicles on the road - recreational vehicles and those towing trailers or boats just don't accelerate as quick."

Is WSDOT considering implementing heavy-vehicle restrictions in high-traffic volume situations? I know that in Germany, trucks and vehicles with trailers are restricted to the right lane if speeds drop below a certain level (45 mph I think). They are also restricted to the right lane in areas that receive high volume traffic.

Would something like this be feasible in Washington, or will there be a lot of political pressure against it?

WSDOT comment policy

Post a Comment