|Crews finishing up the ramps off of|
the new I-5 bridge that spans I-705 in
Tacoma earlier this month.
Tacoma commuters, get ready.
Two big traffic shifts are scheduled to occur shortly after the July 4 holiday and will last for six months. The first will affect northbound Interstate 5 traffic when all northbound lanes will move onto a newly-built northbound I-5 bridge over I-705. Once that traffic shift is complete, an even bigger shift, this time to southbound I-5 traffic, will occur.
Starting July 10, southbound drivers will notice changes being made to southbound I-5 approaching Tacoma as crews place barrier and restripe the southbound lanes into two distinct roadways.
In this temporary southbound alignment, the two lanes to the right of the barrier will provide access to exits that serve State Route 7, I-705, SR 16, and South 38th Street. The three lanes to the left of the barrier will serve travelers heading toward Olympia and beyond. This temporary alignment will be put into place over a week of night closures starting July 10.
Piece of cake, right? It will be as long as you plan ahead and know what to expect.
July 7-10: High Impact Weekend
To get the temporary southbound alignment into place, an around-the-clock weekend lane closure will take place.
From 11 p.m. Friday, July 7 until 5 a.m. Monday, July 10, crews will close one lane of southbound I-5 near the Tacoma Dome to rebuild the center median of the highway. This will likely create big backups coming out of King County. Drivers are advised to travel early when traffic volumes are lower, and build extra time into their trips.
Once the center median work is complete, crews will move the three left lanes of southbound I-5 onto the former northbound lanes and begin installing barrier to create collector/distributor lanes. The I-705 and SR 7 on- and off-ramps, and the exits to SR 16 and East 38th street will be re-striped. This work will occur during overnight hours throughout the week, and will involve lane and ramp closures to implement. While some of this work is weather sensitive and could be delayed, the goal is to have the temporary southbound configuration in place by Friday, July 14.
Why separate southbound I-5 lanes?
This temporary lane configuration creates a work zone allowing crews to advance work on the McKinley Street overpass and rebuild the outside lanes of southbound I-5. It will be in place at least through the end of 2017, and longer if weather delays construction progress.
Eastbound SR 16 to northbound I-5 goes back to two lanes
Amongst these closures and traffic shifts, we do have some good news to share. Along with the southbound traffic shift, this next phase of construction will bring some relief to eastbound SR 16 drivers heading to northbound I-5. Once traffic is moved onto the new northbound alignment, the ramp from SR 16 to northbound I-5 will once again be two lanes instead of one. Enjoy this temporary respite, as the dreaded single-lane ramp will have to be implemented one more time before construction is complete.
Thank you to drivers and a safety message
We know the commute through Tacoma is not easy these days because of on-going construction for HOV lanes. We appreciate your patience and ask for your help in keeping work crews safe. Drive safely. Pay attention. Limit distractions. Work zones are an inconvenient yet necessary part of the process to improve our state highways. We ask that you slow down and give our crews a brake, for safety’s sake.