Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Improvements underway for I-5 exit, crossing in DuPont

By Barbara LaBoe

Drivers at I-5's exit 119 near DuPont and Steilacoom are seeing more green and less red these days.

Changes to the crossing signals and lights led to longer than expected delays when they first went live a couple of weeks ago. Due to unanticipated growth in the area, traffic volumes at this interchange grew much faster than originally predicted in 2012 – we're already at levels not predicted until 2030. As a result, backups were longer than expected and drivers sometimes had to wait through several signals to make it through the intersection. We know this was frustrating and began looking at all possible solutions or remedies.
Revisions to the signal timing on exit 119 off of I-5 near DuPont should
help traffic flow more smoothly through the intersection.

The change in signal timing was part of the larger Point Defiance Bypass rail project, which will reroute passenger train traffic through the area starting this fall. Shortly after the new signals went live, though, it was clear the change was causing frustration. We adjusted the signals to display a green turn arrow more often to help ease congestion and wait times, but knew more work was needed.
An additional signal box like this one will help timing and traffic at exit 119 off of I-5 in DuPont.

Last week we added a second controller at the Barksdale/Wilmington/DuPont-Steilacoom intersection. The controller is what directs the signals, including which color light to display and for how long. A second controller means vehicles are moving through the intersection faster and drivers are seeing longer periods of "green" lights, especially for those vehicles traveling south on DuPont-Steilacoom Road approaching Barksdale.

We're seeing shorter lines and fewer backups in the area, which is good news for everyone using the intersection.

In addition, we're working on traffic/railroad signage revisions to better guide motorists through the intersection and rail crossing. We're also going to restripe the area to better define where vehicles should stop for the crossing.
Adjustments to signal timing at exit 119 off of I-5 near DuPont was meant to help
safety near railroad tracks but led to some significant congestion.

Long-term, we've committed to working with DuPont city leaders on an overall transportation plan for the city as the area continues to grow.

The lights still may require some adjustment for residents, but we hope the alterations we implemented have made that change easier. Safety was the top priority when we met with community leaders about this project starting in 2010, and these changes are designed to address those safety concerns by reducing the chance of collisions.