PORTLAND -- Holiday traffic problems started early on Wednesday with metro roads clogging to a stand still, though Portland International Airport remained fairly calm through the afternoon.
Traffic slowdowns and bottlenecks hit just about every corner of the region as those who raced onto the roads to get a jump on the long weekend were met by a cascade of vehicular wrecks and accidents.
Drivers groan, traffic snarls
Drivers groaned on Twitter that the roads were a nightmare starting around 1 p.m.
A crash on Interstate 405 at Northwest Everett Street in downtown Portland kicked off the afternoon mess around 1 p.m. Then a second wreck at Southwest Canyon Road at Watson Avenue quickly followed and blocked traffic eastbound on Highway 26. That was followed by another wreck before 2 p.m. on Interstate 84 that backed up eastbound motorists from Lloyd Center to Interstate 205.
By 2:30 p.m. traffic was locked up so much that The Clackamas Transit Center and Mall bus stops were closed due to intense holiday congestion.
While those wrecks were all cleared by 3 p.m. the afternoon rush hour was ramped up and rolling.
Even the Columbia River was busy. By Wednesday afternoon the spans of the Interstate Bridge had lifted three times, halting traffic in either side of the Columbia River for 30 minutes each time.
PDX stress free for most
Nearly 40 percent of Americans are planning to travel this weekend and 70 percent say they are stressed out about it.
As many as 50,000 people are expected to fly out of PDX for the holiday.
On Wednesday morning only three flights had been delayed and only by 30 minutes.
But for that reason alone, travelers were getting to the airport with plenty of time to spare, some three or four hours ahead of their flights.
“I think this airport is pretty organized and if you can trust that they are organized and just go with the flow it takes the stress out of it,” said Maura McIvor.
Maura’s husband Andy was a very relaxed early bird as well. “It takes the stress out if you get here early enough. Just have a cup of coffee and relax,” said Andy McIvor.
Reports indicated that a heavy but orderly flow of travelers at the airport in the morning cleared up by the afternoon. Officials expected Thursday will be a heavy travel day.
A few tips:
- Check to see if your flight's on time before you leave the house. LINK
- Get to the airport two hours early for domestic flights and longer for international ones.
- Other travel and traffic resources here and weather updates here
If you're worried that the big storm back east could wreck your travel plans-- some airlines are trying to help out. American, Alaska, Delta and Jet-Blue allow you to change your flights with no fee.
Others are moving their flights up to avoid the storm.