From here to there, to everywhere.
If your company requires a solid transportation network of air, sea, rail and land routes, Washington State is up to the task. Following is an overview of the state’s transportation system and how it connects to the rest of the U.S. and the world.
Located 20 minutes south of Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the state’s largest international airport and ninth busiest in the U.S. It serves as a hub for major airlines offering direct and connecting routes to cities throughout Washington, the United States and the world. Nearly 50 million passengers fly through Sea-Tac annually.
Direct international flights are offered by Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Air France, All Nippon, ANA, Asiana, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Condor, Emirates, Eurowings, EVA Air, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic and Xiamen. Other carriers at Sea-Tac include Air Canada, Alaska Air, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Sun Country, Thomas Cook Air, United, which provide connections to all major U.S. cities, including nonstop flights.
From Sea-Tac, business travelers can fly direct to Amsterdam, Dubai, Doha Dublin, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Montreal, Mexico City, Ontario, Paris, Reykjavik, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto and Vancouver and connect to major cities all over the world. Seattle is an hour closer by air to major Asian business centers than any other U.S. airport on the west coast.
Domestic travelers can also use the new Paine Field terminal in Everett. The airport is served by Alaska and United, offering direct flights to cities along the western seaboard.
In the eastern part of the state, Spokane International Airport serves as the gateway, offering direct service and non-stop to many U.S. cities. Other international airports, such as Bellingham, provide service to Sea-Tac International as well as other U.S. destinations.
King County International, Sea-Tac, Spokane and other cities throughout Washington handle domestic and international cargo routes as well and serve as a base of operations for Alaska Air, Cargolux, China Airlines Cargo, Eva Air Cargo, FedEx and Korean Air Cargo as well as belly service on all major airlines.
Domestic Flight Times (non-stop)
- Seattle to Las Vegas: 2 1/3 hours
- Seattle to Los Angeles: 2 3/4 hours
- Seattle to Chicago: 4 hours
- Seattle to New York: 5 hours
- Seattle to Miami: 5 1/2 hours
If access to Pacific sea lanes is important, several of Washington’s 75 ports are a day’s sail closer to Asian markets than any other port on the west coast.
The fourth largest container gateway in the U.S., the Northwest Seaport Alliance includes Seattle’s and Tacoma’s port operations and serves as a major import/export center for bulk, breakbulk, project/heavy-lift cargoes, automobiles and trucks. The combined ports handled more than 3.6 million TEU last year and host 18 international carriers. Two Class 1 railroads link these ports to markets throughout the Pacific Northwest and Midwest. The Northwest Seaport Alliance also serves as a major trade gateway to Alaska. More than 80% of total trade volume to Alaska is handled by these ports.
Washington has the second largest concentration of distribution centers on the West Coast. Eleven ports are deep draft: Anacortes, Bellingham, Everett, Grays Harbor, Kalama, Longview, Olympia, Port Angeles and Vancouver as well as Seattle and Tacoma.
Need rail? We’ve got you covered there, too! Washington is served by two national railroads, BNSF and Union Pacific, as well as several local lines, ensuring that your goods can be shipped quickly and efficiently by train. There are 3,666 miles of rail in Washington, connecting the state to major markets throughout North, Central and South America and Canada.
Washington’s primary north-south connector is I-5, which runs from the Canadian border to California. I-405 branches off of I-5 just north of Seattle and reconnects south of it, providing access to communities on the eastside.
Highways 2, 20 and 12 and Interstate 90 connect Western and Eastern Washington, traveling through several mountain passes in the Cascades. Smaller highways connect communities along the Pacific Coast and in Central Washington to major freeways.
Approximate Drive Times
Seattle to Portland: 3 1/2 hours
Seattle to Vancouver BC: 3 hours
Seattle to Spokane: 4 1/4 hours
Seattle to the Pacific Ocean: 3 hours
Seattle to Tri-Cities: 3 1/2 hours
In 2015, Washington voters made a major investment in transportation. The Connecting Washington program will invest $70 billion in infrastructure projects throughout the state in the decades to come.
Some of the major projects underway include:
- $9.4 billion for state highways and local roads, including the SR 167/509 Gateway project; SR-520 “Rest of the West” project; Lynnwood to Tukwila corridor improvements along I-405; and safety and traffic improvements to I-90 through Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades and I-5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
- $1.4 billion for highway maintenance, operations and preservation.
- $602 million for ferries and ferry terminals.
- Expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail system from Tacoma to Everett.
- Fast ferries between Bremerton, Kingston Southworth and downtown Seattle.
- Improvements to bike paths, walkways and transit buses.
Washington operates the largest vehicle and passenger ferry system in the United States. The ferries serve as an aquatic highway that connects communities throughout the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. The state’s 21 ferries transported more than 23 million passengers and 10.5 million vehicles last year.
- 7,000 miles of state highways
- 18,046 miles of city streets
- 39,180 miles of county roads
- 465 miles of navigable waterways for barge traffic on the Columbia and Snake rivers
- 75 ports in 33 of 39 counties
- 21 state ferries
- 7 county ferries
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