Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 recap: mixed bag, same story

High gas prices? Other economic factors? The weather? There are as many theories as vehicles on the road this Memorial Day weekend. (If you are wondering, those numbers are below).

Whatever the question, the answer remains that travel was markedly mixed for Memorial Day 2011.

While east-west travel showed a decrease, north-south travel over I-5 showed a bit of an increase. So what about those mountain pass backups, you may wonder. While travel may have been down, it was only slightly. Combined with traffic incidents, there were places where drivers experienced significant congestion.

Both I-90 Snoqualmie Pass and US 2 Stevens Pass were busy Monday, while drivers who stuck to the I-5 corridor moving through with atypical ease.

Here are the numbers for the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass Memorial Day 2011 travel weekend (comparing 2011 with 2010):

  • 181,000 vehicles traveled over Snoqualmie Pass (both directions) from Friday to Monday, a decrease of 6,000 vehicles or 3.2 percent.


  • 55,000 traveled Friday, a decrease of 1.1 percent, with drivers traveling earlier, so the late-night buildup didn’t happen.


  • 600 fewer vehicles traveled over the pass on Friday.


  • About the same number of vehicles traveled over the pass Saturday.


  • 2,300 fewer vehicles traveled over the pass Sunday.


  • 50,000 traveled Monday, a decrease of 5.7 percent. Most of this decrease was in the early morning and late evening. Those noontime and early evening travelers were still met with the congestion and long waits we predicted.

I-5, Olympia to Tacoma showed a slight increase of Memorial Day weekend traffic.



  • 40,600 vehicles on I-5 between Olympia and Tacoma (both directions) from Friday to Monday, an increase of 16,500 vehicles or 4 percent.


  • 3,100 more (2 percent) traveled on Friday.


  • 4,700 more (4 percent) traveled on Saturday.


  • 3,800 more (4 percent) traveled on Sunday.


  • 4,900 more (5 percent) traveled on Monday.

I-5, Bellingham to the U.S./Canadian border showed the most significant travel increase, with 133,000 vehicles on I-5 between Bellingham and the U.S./Canadian border (both directions) from Friday to Monday. This was an increase of 14,700 vehicles (or 11 percent) compared to 2010.



  • 2,700 more (7 percent) traveled on Friday.


  • 5,000 more (14 percent) traveled on Saturday.


  • 4,200 more (13 percent) traveled on Sunday.


  • 2,800 more (10 percent) traveled on Monday.

US 2, Stevens Pass Again, while those stuck in Monday’s traffic backups may not believe it, only 34,500 vehicles on US 2 Stevens Pass (both directions) from Friday to Monday. This was a decrease of 1,000 vehicles (3 percent) compared to 2010.Travel patterns for the four days appear to be as forecast.



  • 600 less (6 percent) traveled Friday.


  • 300 less (4 percent) traveled Saturday.


  • 400 less (5 percent) traveled Sunday.


  • 350 more (3 percent) traveled Monday.

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