We promise. It will get better.
Soon after the eastbound State Route 16 project wrapped up in Tacoma last summer, drivers were treated to a much easier commute over the Nalley Valley and onto Interstate 5. It was welcome relief after years of congestion followed by years of construction. However, regular free-flowing traffic to northbound I-5 was short-lived. That's because shortly after finishing construction in Nalley Valley, crews kicked off work on an adjoining project called I-5 - M Street to Portland Avenue - HOV.
In that project, we are building future HOV lanes on I-5 through Tacoma. The work also involves replacing the original surface of I-5. To replace the surface, crews have created an I-5 traffic island. Workers have been hard at work in the island – that's closed to traffic – removing beaten down concrete and replacing it with brand new concrete. Once the island work is complete, we'll move traffic onto the new concrete. Crews will then continue replacing concrete elsewhere in the job.
We are very aware of how this traffic island has led to recurring backups from eastbound SR 16 to northbound I-5. Delays are magnified if anything out of the ordinary occurs, like a collision or a disabled vehicle. The good news is that this traffic configuration is temporary. Once the lanes are in their final configuration, you'll enjoy a much less congested drive.
Our challenge is to keep traffic moving while at the same time, giving I-5 its largest overhaul in Tacoma in decades. We're taking on that challenge, albeit with the request of patience and tolerance from the traveling public.
|Decades of heavy use and weather have taken a toll on the original surface of I-5 in Tacoma. Here’s the extent crews have dug into I-5 to replace the original surface and conduct rehabilitation work.|
Over the last few years, drivers have watched us build pieces of a much larger puzzle. A giant piece of the puzzle was the addition of the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which greatly enhanced travel along westbound and eastbound SR 16. We added HOV lanes on SR 16, and now we're adding the capacity for I-5 HOV lanes in Tacoma. The most recent focus is two projects that will add capacity to I-5 from M Street, over the Puyallup River, and into Fife. In the next few years, we'll also launch the last of three projects over the Nalley Valley. That's where workers will build HOV lanes and HOV ramps between I-5 and SR 16.
This is all fine and good, but I'm sick of traffic
I would be hard-pressed to find someone who enjoys sitting in traffic. But there are a lot of things each of us can do to help alleviate traffic backups.
For example, check out our driver tools. Drivers can get information from their phones via the WSDOT mobile app. Additional information is available from WSDOT email alerts and Twitter.
Consider using alternate forms of transportation to get around. Public Transportation agencies can help by connecting you with carpools, vanpools or transit.
Do you have the option of working a flex schedule? That's a great way to avoid the morning and afternoon peak crush hours.
There are other ways you can help. Should you get into fender bender, move your car to the shoulder. Better yet, avoid the fender bender in the first place by giving yourself plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.