Thanksgiving Day travel expected to be busy on mountain passes

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SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. -- Traffic on Washington highways is about to get busy as Thanksgiving approaches.

The Washington State Department of Transportation expects big delays over I-90 in the next several days.

Driver Brodie Bain knows all about the delays and said they can be frustrating.

“Traffic can get really terrible,” she said. “Sunday is probably going to be a total mess.”

WSDOT said traffic volumes will spike on in the eastbound lanes on Wednesday, and then again in both directions on Sunday. Thousands of additional vehicles will be on the roads this week. The Washington State Patrol said now is a good time for drivers to put together an emergency kit.

“Blankets, winter clothing, bring some flares, a first-aid kit,” said Trooper Darren Wright.

When it does snow on the pass, WSDOT usually has to close the road to remove snow. But a pair of new avalanche bridges under construction are designed to eliminate road closures for snow removal during heavy storms.

“Those avalanches will be designed to go underneath these bridges and straight into the lake,” said Jim Mahugh with WSDOT.

The project isn’t expected to be complete in 2018. Until then, drivers will be at the mercy of Mother Nature.

“Take your time, travel slow,” said Mahugh. "Find another time to go. Thanksgiving is another good time to go.”

Bain said she and her family will keep a close watch on the forecast and instead cross the pass on Thanksgiving Day to avoid backups.

“My husband and I are going to the east side on Thursday,” she said. “We have a four-wheel drive.”

Snow is not in the forecast for Snoqualmie Pass over the holiday weekend but WSDOT crews will be on hand to take care of any wet spots that might turn into ice.