April brings thousands of visitors to see the beautiful tulips grown in the fields in the western portion of Skagit County.

Last year, the festival was canceled but still hundreds of visitors came out to lay their eyes on the tulips. Our traffic unit was out on the county roads that surrounds the tulip fields to ensure the safety of all involved.

This year, the festival will be open on a modified basis. We do expect a heavy volume of traffic once the tulips are in bloom.

Here are a few tips for enjoying your visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival:

n Use Highway 20 at Interstate 5 exit 230 to access the tulip fields.

n Be patient. Our rural roads are easily overwhelmed with the heavy traffic.

n Watch for deputies directing traffic. They are there for your safety.

n No-parking zones will be patrolled and enforced.

n The tulip area is all private property, please respect it.

To get the most up-to-date information on ticketing to the gardens, hours of operations, COVID-19 related regulations and venues, visit tulipfestival.org or call the festival office at 360-428-5959.

The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office has a dedicated traffic unit that enforces county road speed limits, investigates motor vehicle accidents and various other traffic-related complaints.

The unit includes one sergeant and five deputies. We have three motorcycles within that unit that are used for specific traffic-related events such as the Tulip Festival, Big Lake fireworks, Oyster Run and holiday parades.

The traffic unit participates in several state-sponsored traffic safety campaigns including “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” “Distracted Driving” and “Click it or Ticket."

In 2020, the Oyster Run was canceled, however, the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission sponsored a “Motorcycle Safety Emphasis” during that weekend as there were many motorcycles still on the Oyster Run routes. 

This campaign included a motorcycle speed emphasis during the day and a DUI emphasis during the evening.

Agencies from all over the area participated, including the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Motorcycle Unit.

This high visibility emphasis yielded a large amount of motorcycle contacts. No motorcycle collisions or fatalities were reported on Skagit County roads during the emphasis.

The Skagit County Sheriff Traffic Unit is planning on partnering with the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission again for the 2021 Oyster Run weekend motorcycle safety emphasis.

The Traffic Unit works in high-collision areas and uses the collision data that our county traffic engineers provide to target their efforts.

The traffic unit also works closely with the county traffic engineers to determine high traffic areas and areas that have a high volume of excessive speed.

The engineers deploy devices to determine the average speed of vehicles and the time of day it is occurring. Traffic deputies will work emphasis patrols in these areas based off the data collected.

Traffic deputies are also responsive to traffic complaints called in by citizens. These complaints often include neighborhood speeding, parking problems, reckless driving and DUI.

If you live on a county road and are experiencing speeding traffic, please call us so we can target your area with enforcement and have a presence in your neighborhood.

Please send questions, concerns and tips to my email: scsocommunity@co.skagit.wa.us.

— Chad Clark is undersheriff with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.

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