Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In the world of construction, dry weather equals a pot of gold … and the path forward

Looking north from Pacific Avenue across I-5 to downtown Tacoma.
The sheet piling wall just behind the bus marks the north end
of the final bridge pier to be built for the new Pacific Avenue
overpass. Another sheet piling wall will be built where the
orange-colored attenuators are. The area where the bus
is will be excavated down 20 feet for the new bridge
pier, which is why traffic has to be diverted.

By Cara Mitchell

Rain - it is what makes the grass, moss and trees grow. But when it comes to paving and striping in roadway construction projects, rain can be a problem.

Since December, contractor crews working on WSDOT’s I-5 - M Street to Portland Avenue HOV project in Tacoma have waited for a dry weekend so they could pave and paint new exit lanes from the northbound I-5 collector-distributor to Interstate 705 and State Route 7. That work will allow them to shift traffic and start building the last of six bridge piers for the new Pacific Avenue overpass. The location of the bridge pier is within the current northbound I-5 exit to I-705. Crews need to excavate approximately 20 feet in depth where the current exit exists to build the pier. Before that can happen, the exit lanes to I-705 and SR 7 have to be shifted. Sounds easy, right?

This sheet piling wall marks the location of the final bridge pier waiting
to be built for the new Pacific Avenue overpass in Tacoma.

To complete the traffic shift, crews will pave approximately 1,000 tons of new asphalt and paint lane stripes. This work requires a full weekend closure of the I-5 ramps to northbound I-705 and southbound SR 7 at the City Center exit. The work also requires dry weather. It is nearly impossible to stripe a wet roadway. For nearly 15 weeks in a row, WSDOT has had to postpone this work because the rain just wouldn’t stop.

The weekend of March 18, however, crews may finally get their chance. The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is dry weather, and that’s what crews are hoping for.

Contractor crews working for WSDOT will soon shift traffic to the
right on the northbound I-5 exit to I-705 and SR 7 ramps.
The traffic shift is necessary so crews can build the final bridge
pier for the new Pacific Avenue overpass in Tacoma.

Once the work is finished, crews can begin building the sixth and final bridge pier for the new Pacific Avenue overpass. WSDOT demolished the previous overpass in spring 2015 because the old piers were in the way of new lanes on I-5. The initial goal was to have the new overpass opened this month. As you can see, we are several weeks behind due to - you guessed it - rain.

Once the final bridge pier is built, work to install bridge girders can take place, rain or shine. Final paving and striping on the new Pacific Avenue overpass is still months away and hopefully in drier weather. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to safely build HOV lanes through Tacoma.

For the latest weekend and possible rare daytime ramp closure information, please visit the www.tacomatraffic.com webpage.

1 comment:

Vince R said...

From what I understand, we have set records for the wettest winter... its a surprise that we have been able to get much done at all.

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