Thursday, March 4, 2021

Coming soon: 3-month closure of Thorne Lane ramp to southbound I-5

Update: Mar. 11, 2021
The ramp closure is now scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 17, weather permitting. The contractor needs additional time to finish preparational work before shifting the travel lanes. We will provide updates as they become available from the from the contractor.
By Cara Mitchell

Yes, it's true. Knock on wood, the project that rebuilds the Berkeley Street and Thorne Lane interchanges so we can widen Interstate 5 in Lakewood will wrap up this year.

The work, which adds auxiliary and HOV lanes to I-5, will require a significant ramp closure starting the night of Friday, March 12, weather permitting.

Thorne Lane on-ramp to southbound I-5
Since November 2020, access to southbound I-5 from Thorne Lane has only been available from the Tillicum neighborhood via Thorne Lane. Travelers coming from Murray Road, JBLM Logistics Gate or the Woodbrook neighborhood are following a detour on northbound I-5 to Gravelly Lake Drive to southbound I-5.

As early as March 13, construction crews will permanently close the Thorne Lane on-ramp to southbound I-5 from the Tillicum neighborhood. This important ramp connection will reopen in its final configuration, from the new overpass, three months after the closure begins.

This map shows the detour route for travelers coming from Murray Road SW.

During the temporary three-month closure:
  • Travelers coming from Murray Road, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Logistics Gate or the Woodbrook neighborhood will continue to detour on northbound I-5 to Gravelly Lake Drive, then onto southbound I-5.
  • Tillicum travelers will use the Berkeley Street interchange to reach southbound I-5, or use the new Thorne Lane overpass and follow the same detour as travelers coming from Murray Road.
Signal timing at Berkeley Street
You have told us about backups at Berkeley Street getting to I-5, and we've seen it ourselves. More travelers coming from Murray Road are detouring through Tillicum and using Berkeley Street instead of detouring to Gravelly Lake Drive. We will continue to monitor and adjust the signal timing at Berkeley Street, but we need travelers coming from the Woodbrook area, especially freight haulers, to use the Gravelly Lake Drive detour.  

Why a three-month closure of the ramp?
Closing this connection creates work zones for the contractor to do the following:
  • Finish the roundabout connection from Union Avenue and to the new Thorne Lane high bridge.  Once finished, this will officially remove the railroad crossing at Thorne Lane. Travelers will instead cross the railroad using the new overpass. 
  • Complete the collector-distributor lane barrier that will guide travelers from a shared exit on southbound I-5 to Thorne Lane and Berkeley Street.
  • Build a new Thorne Lane on-ramp to southbound I-5 from the new overpass.

Permanent change to southbound I-5 exits
In three months, a new shared exit on southbound I-5 will open to travelers going to Thorne Lane and Berkeley Street. The barrier that is being built will eventually separate mainline I-5 traffic from those taking the exit. Studies show that using barrier in this way can prevent excessive weaving and merging that can often cause collisions.

Anyone traveling to Madigan Army Medical Center, Camp Murray, JBLM's Logistic Gate or Lakewood's Tillicum and Woodbrook neighborhoods will be using this shared exit. It's a permanent change coming that drivers will need to take note of.

New on-ramp
After the three-month closure, a new on-ramp to southbound I-5 will open to travelers from the east side of the interstate. We've previously referenced this new on-ramp as the Thorne Lane "low ramp", and it's only accessible from the Murray Road roundabout. Here is the important part: travelers will no longer cross the railroad before heading to southbound I-5. Instead, drivers will turn left from the new overpass at a signalized intersection and continue south to the collector/distributor lane to Berkeley Street. From there, drivers will merge on to southbound I-5.

This video shows how the new interchange will operate once all the I-5 widening is finished.
We will continue to share the weekly overnight lane and ramp closures that accompany this work on our Travel Planner web page.

As a reminder, the reduced speed limit is still in place on I-5 while crews finish the work. Thank you for your continued patience and support.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Big improvement! I live on American Lake. This is going to be EASIER and SAFER!
Bill W.

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