Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Rinse and repeat: Tacoma traffic shift, demolition, paving

Update: Apr. 8, 2021
Due to weather, Atkinson Construction will now close the Portland Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-5 starting at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 10. The ramp will remain closed until 6 a.m. Monday, April 12.
By Cara Mitchell

If it seems like we've done this before, we have. The art of replacing the 1960s era roadway surface on Interstate 5 in Tacoma involves a few key ingredients: 
  1. Move travel lanes to another section of the highway so a new work zone is created 
  2. Tear out the old roadway
  3. Rebuild the roadway so it matches the new alignment with new drainage and newly installed foundations for new signs 
  4. Install the new roadway surface
  5. Move travelers onto the newly resurfaced highway
In February we shared a blog about how our contractor, Atkinson Construction, had to shift the southbound I-5 exit 133 to Tacoma's city center two miles away from where travelers normally would take the exit. We promised this was a temporary change and we're sticking to that promise.

Over the weekend of April 9-12, the contractor will again shift traffic to accommodate a new work zone on the outside shoulder of southbound I-5 between the Portland Avenue on-ramp and the Tacoma Dome. Following a weekend ramp closure, the southbound I-5 exit 133 to Tacoma's city center will move back to its original location near the Tacoma Dome. 

Opening this new work zone gives crews the space to replace another section of the existing aging roadway, drill foundations for overhead sign structures, and install drainage and barrier. 

Putting the traffic shift in place will require a weekend closure of the Portland Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-5 from 10 p.m. Friday, April 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, April 12. This weekend ramp closure is necessary to connect the on-ramp to the new pavement on southbound I-5. This work is weather dependent so the dates could change.

If all goes as planned, Tacoma commuters will see three things Monday morning:
  • The Portland Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-5 reopened
  • The southbound I-5 exit 133 to I-705 and State Route 7 will be back in its original location near the Tacoma Dome
  • Drivers headed to southbound I-5 from Port of Tacoma Road or SR 167/Bay Street will merge with the mainline at a new location. 
This traffic shift will be in place until mid-June.

What happens next?

We may sound like a broken record at this point, but around mid-June, another traffic shift will occur to move the work zone to the center median of I-5. This new work zone gives crews room to finish the median barrier, drill foundations for overhead sign structures, and set the last set of columns in the middle of I-5 for the new East L Street bridge. 

There will also be a long-term ramp closure we want to give you fair warning about. 

The Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5 will close for up to 15 days in August. This closure is needed so crews can realign the ramp to match the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. We will share more information on the specific timing of this ramp closure and the detour that will be in place on the project web page and on TacomaTraffic.com in the weeks ahead. 

Stay safe

We know these shifts can take a little getting used to. We'd like to ask you to please continue to watch your speed in work zones to give construction crews the room they need to get this work done. Keeping your eyes on the road and slowing down helps keep you, our crews, and other drivers safe.


Unknown said...

Your doing a fantastic job, everything looks great. Keep safe.

Unknown said...

Thanks for doing a great job everything looks great

Unknown said...

When are you guys going to be finished with construction in this area? I can't even remember a time anymore when you weren't working there.

MadDawg said...

Keep yelling at the sky grandpa!

Unknown said...

What is the big red metal thing being put together at the new bridge site?

Cheryl said...

I drive this stretch of freeway very frequently and I just have to say, I have noticed that the company working on this project has done a fantastic job keeping the freeway shoulder/job site/freeway clean and very well-maintained where they have been/are working. However, the southbound shoulder of the freeway (specifically from M Street on down) is absolutely FILTHY. There are WHOLE HAY BALES, SHOES, GLASS, all kinds of debris and random large objects everywhere. It’s so bad that I don’t think it would be safe to pull off on the shoulder in an emergency if you didn’t already have a flat tire, you would sure have one after pulling onto the shoulder. Isn’t WSDOT responsible for maintaining that part of the freeway? Or is the company responsible for that area as well? There’s an obvious starting/ending point for where the freeway shoulder is being maintained and where it isn’t.

WSDOT said...

Cheryl, thanks for the comment. We will share with both the contractor and our maintenance crews.

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