Monday, February 1, 2021

Keeping our eye on the prize - finishing construction of the Puyallup River Bridge

By Cara Mitchell

On the night of Wednesday, Jan. 20, contractor Guy F. Atkinson Construction finished installing the final 30 bridge girders that now complete the backbone of the new southbound Interstate 5 Puyallup River Bridge in Tacoma.

In case you missed it, one of the thirty girders installed holds the record as the longest prestressed concrete girder manufactured in the United States, right here at Concrete Technology Corporation in Tacoma, WA.
The longest prestressed concrete girder ever manufactured in the United States was installed
on the new I-5 Puyallup River Bridge in early January.

We shared a video of this record-breaking girder being installed during the early morning hours of Saturday, Jan. 9.
Crossing this milestone means construction crews are now finishing building the bridge deck and advancing work to replace the original roadway surface on I-5 just between the new bridge and the Tacoma Dome.

Change to Exit 133 creates new work zone

In an effort to shorten up the construction timeline, we're moving forward with a temporary change to the location of southbound I-5 exit 133 to Tacoma's city center.

Weather permitting, as early as Wednesday, Feb. 3, travelers will begin seeing new signs on southbound I-5 in Fife alerting drivers of a new decision point for exiting to I-705 and State Route 7.

Crews will move the location for southbound I-5 exit 133 north to the vicinity of the Port of Tacoma Road overpass. This means travelers will need to stay alert and change lanes early enough to not miss the new exit. Travelers headed to I-705 and SR 7 will use the same exit and temporary collector/distributor lane as travelers exiting to Portland Avenue and Bay Street.

Should you miss the exit...

The new decision point is two miles before the actual exit. If you happen to miss it, follow southbound I-5 to exit 130 at South 56th Street and use the cloverleaf ramps to safely merge back to northbound I-5. From there you can access northbound I-5 exit 133 to I-705 and SR 7. While we know this change will take some getting used to, it is temporary.

By moving the exit location, the contractor will open up a work zone next to the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. This change has the potential of moving travelers onto the new bridge by late summer instead of later this fall. The contractor is hopeful that the southbound I-5 exit 133 will return to its original location in a couple months, weather permitting.

The end result

Understandably, changing the location of exits for drivers can be frustrating. The payoff for doing this is the contractor is working towards having all mainline and HOV lanes on I-5 in Tacoma and Fife opened by late summer or at least the end of this September. We know from experience that things happen in our world that may change that outcome. Fingers crossed though, we can meet this goal and bring capacity for all I-5 travelers sooner than anticipated.

We will keep you updated as work progresses. Thank you for your continued patience. Please help keep workers safe by paying attention to the road in front of you as your drive through the work zone.