By Cara Mitchell
Just in time for the holidays, a temporary lane
configuration that sends eastbound State Route 16 drivers on a 2-mile detour to
reach the west side of I-5 in Tacoma will be removed as early as Friday
morning, Nov. 16, weather permitting.
Design-build contractor Skanska recently finished building a
temporary ramp that will allow I-705, SR 7 and Pacific Avenue drivers to merge
on to southbound I-5 without having to use exit 132A/South 38th Street ramp.
Once the new temporary ramp opens to traffic, Skanska can
remove temporary traffic control and allow SR 16 drivers to go west on South
Why have SR 16
drivers not been able to use the South 38th Street west ramp?
In May when southbound I-5 moved into a temporary
configuration, I-705, SR 7 and Pacific Avenue drivers had to take the 132A/South
38th Street exit to rejoin southbound I-5 near South 48th Street. This
temporary configuration increased traffic volumes on the ramp.
Drivers coming from downtown Tacoma were also merging with those
coming from eastbound SR 16 to southbound I-5. While it is true that this merge
has always been in place, the distance to make this merge shortened. To reduce
the potential for collisions, traffic control was installed preventing
eastbound SR 16 drivers from merging across two lanes of traffic to exit South 38th
Street west. For their safety, drivers were detoured to the South 56th Street
exit, back on to northbound I-5, and to exit 132. While this wasn’t popular
with drivers, it was necessary due to the amount of traffic on both ramps.
Once the temporary ramp is open, traffic volumes on exit
132A/South 38th Street exit will be reduced.
Safety first while
driving through work zones
We’ve all experienced first-hand the increased traffic
congestion near a mall or shopping center during the holidays. This change in
ramp configurations will help traffic get to shopping areas more easily during
the holidays. Still, be sure to pay attention to your driving, especially
through work zones, and give yourself plenty of travel time to enjoy your