Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Relocating I-5 in Tacoma a major effort that requires significant lane reduction

By Doug Adamson

Trying to accommodate 197,000 vehicles a day while building the most substantial overhaul of Interstate 5 in Tacoma since the highway was first opened in the 1960s is, to put it mildly, a challenge. We've asked for a lot of patience from drivers this summer. We've had overnight closures, full weekend lane closures, and many ramp closures and detours. Your cooperation during those temporary lane restrictions have helped construction move forward. We need your help once again as we move into a new phase of building HOV lanes through Tacoma on I-5.

Over the past 1½ years, commuters have watched crews create a new northbound I-5 bridge that spans I-705 and State Route 7. Now we need to build the roadway that will lead to the new bridge. So far we've moved a lot of dirt, widened the freeway and installed new retention walls. Workers even rebuilt the Pacific Avenue overpass so there weren't bridge columns in the way of new lanes. The next step in this big project is to relocate the actual northbound I-5 highway.

Drivers should start preparing now for a major lane restriction on SR 16 as we create a new path for I-5 in Tacoma.

Anyone who has maneuvered through traffic between 38th Street and the Tacoma Dome knows that there isn't much room for contractors to work in. To begin relocating the path of northbound I-5 requires reducing eastbound SR 16 near I-5 to one lane. This temporary restriction is expected to start soon. Once enacted, it will continue around the clock through the spring of 2017.

Commuters have experienced this particular lane reduction before, and it wasn't fun. We know there will be backups and delays, especially during the morning and afternoon peak commute hours.

From fall 2016 to spring 2017, the eastbound SR 16 ramp to northbound I-5 will be reduced from two lanes to one while crews build new I-5 northbound lanes to connect to a new I-5 northbound bridge crossing I-705. SR 16 backups are expected, and this video provides an alternate route for motorists to consider. This alternate route could save time for people headed either north of Tacoma on I-5 or to downtown Tacoma. Check it out!

Again, we extend our thanks to drivers who've continued to be patient while we build HOV lanes through Tacoma. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Every day, together, we are one step closer to reaching that goal.

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