Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Weekend closure: Make alternate plans for Aug. 20-23 if you use northbound SR 167 between Sumner and Pacific

By Cara Mitchell

Have you heard about the time we closed almost four miles of northbound SR 167 over a weekend and didn't see major travel delays? Me neither. But we want this to become a true story! To make it happen, we need your help.

From 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 20, to 4 a.m. Monday morning, August 23, we are going to close all lanes of northbound SR 167 from the SR 410 interchange in Sumner to 8th Street East in Pacific for work to help build a high occupancy vehicle lane. During the closure, we'll use a mix of city and county streets as a detour. None of them were built to handle the volume of SR 167 and that's where you come in. We'll all have to work together during this closure.

Northbound SR 167 at the eastbound SR 410 exit in Sumner. This will be the start of the detour route over the weekend of Aug. 20 for anyone traveling north on SR 167.

Short-term pain for long-term gain
Anyone who drives northbound SR 167 from Puyallup to Auburn knows how congested it is. It's why we are building a northbound HOV lane.

There are no times when it's convenient to close northbound SR 167. We're closing the roadway over the weekend because crews need to work where people ordinarily would drive and there's less traffic on the weekend. During the weekend closure, construction crews will make changes to bridge drainage systems and add additional roadway surface to the existing bridge decks.

HOV lanes maximize the movement of people and improve trip reliability, especially for those who share the ride. Ultimately, when all the HOV work is completed, it will benefit everyone using the highway.

How many people use SR 167?  (Or why we need everyone to consider other options)
Approximately 50,000 vehicles a day use northbound SR 167 between Puyallup and Auburn.

With traffic volumes like that, we certainly don't take closing one direction of this highway lightly, and we need your help. We need about 25,000 vehicles or more to avoid heading north that weekend. To give you a sense of perspective, 25,000 is a little less than the combined population of Bonney Lake and Sumner (about 30,000 for both).

Our traffic models show that even with a 50 percent reduction of traffic heading north, we will still see 10-mile backups during the weekend closure. So, we're going to need those who can't avoid heading north to know what to expect and be patient.

One of the work zones in the Algona area where crews are widening northbound SR 167 to add an HOV lane.

Detour routes
We don't have another state highway nearby that can absorb an extra 50,000 vehicles without feeling it. Over the past six months, we worked closely with the cities of Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Pacific and Algona to create the detour routes. There are two of them – one for passenger vehicles, and one for semi-trucks. We can't stress enough that these are local streets. We truly need a lot of people to simply not go through this area during the weekend closure.

Here is the passenger vehicle detour route during the weekend closure:

Here is the truck detour route during the weekend closure:

As you can imagine, a closure like this will trigger tremendous backups on local roads. We are going to need your help so we all can get through this weekend closure.

How can you help?

  • Delay your trip
  • Only travel if it's necessary and avoid discretionary trips
  • Travel earlier in the day or later in the evening when traffic volumes are lower.
  • Use transit, carpool, vanpool or work from home or remote office locations if possible.
  • Follow the speed limit on local roads, don't block driveways and watch for the detour signs.

For those who can't take advantage of these options, it will mean there's the potential for long delays. We encourage travelers to add at least 90 minutes of travel time if you must go through the detour route.

Congestion on nearby state highways
We've seen it happen during emergencies – when a major state highway shuts down, the other highways get very congested. Don't be surprised if you see more people using northbound I-5 through Tacoma and Fife that weekend. We anticipate that nearby state highways such as SR 161 and SR 169 and even SR 99 will have a few more people on them as well. Pack your patience and apply the same advice we listed above.

  • Always check the state-wide Travel Alerts webpage for real time highway conditions.
  • If you're traveling over Chinook Pass expecting to go north on SR 167, please use I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass instead.
  • Coming up from Vancouver or Olympia to Seattle for a Seattle Seahawks pre-season game on Saturday, Aug. 21? Northbound I-5 through Tacoma and Fife will be slow going that weekend.
  • Be aware of nearby construction projects such as the 90-day closure of SR 164 east of Auburn.

Could this work get delayed?
Yes, it could get rescheduled because of weather. It could also get delayed due to unforeseen product availability or staffing issues. We're working with the contractor to try to avoid these issues as best we can. If the schedule changes, we will share the latest information once it becomes available via our email updates and project web page.

Stay safe
Please watch your speed on the detour routes and in work zones. Always 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.


Robrace00 said...

Thats an awesome waste of tax payer money, when the HOV lane is finished the DOT is going to charge the tax payers to use the lane their taxes paid to make... Another liberal money grab.

Jimmy Rollins said...

Trash money grab

Scott Thompson said...

Looking forward to the improvement and it will help in the long run.

Unknown said...

What is the point of having HOV lanes here and there and not continous? I wont ever use them because it is a nightmare to get back over to the tight when you need to exit, people hate you getting in front of them and are down right rude/

Unknown said...

I'm glad that another lane is being built, but let me get this straight. It's our tax dollars paying for this road and know it's our tax dollars to use this road, I have never understand HOV lanes. It's called double dipping and it's not right. But that's our government for you

WSDOT said...

The HOV lane being built on northbound SR 167 will tie into the existing HOT lane, making it a continuous lane. HOV lanes focus on moving people rather than individual vehicles. While this lane will open as an HOV lane, it will be transitioned to a HOT lane in the future. You can learn more about HOV and HOT lanes here: https://wsdot.wa.gov/travel/highways-bridges/hov/home

WSDOT said...

A practical solutions approach was used on this project to identify ways to reduce congestion using cost-effective solutions. We know that we cannot build our way out of congestion. We are making the best possible use of existing highway capacity. HOV lanes maximize the movement of people. HOV lanes usually move more people than a general purpose lane, even when they don’t look full. You can learn more about HOV lanes here: https://wsdot.wa.gov/travel/highways-bridges/hov/home

Unknown said...

Hopefully going south will be extended next. They literally made it worse at the Algona exit when they only extended it a portion.

twistedghost said...

great choice of timing… the first 3 weeks of august already have a huge influx of traffic due to the washington state renaissance fair in bonney lake

Unknown said...

How about northbound where the right lane ends just before the 15th st exit they just continue that lane and make it an exit only? So many people ride that lane and jump over at the last second. That would be an actual improvement.

Unknown said...

I use the hot lane in Bellevue, until I have to get out of it. They all need to be continuous hot lanes. Moving out of the lane is dangerous at times.

Stacy said...

How about also adding a right turn lane at the end of 167 north where the exit is to get onto 405???? That is sorely needed next.

WSDOT said...

Unknown, thanks for the suggestion. Please know that 15th Street NW is outside of the project limits. We will share your feedback with our traffic engineers.

WSDOT said...

Stacy, thanks for the comment. The project limits for the weekend closure is from Sumner in Pierce County to Pacific in King County. The I-405 interchange is not in the project limits.

Harold hill said...

Seems southbound would have been a better choice. Goes from 3 lanes to 2 lanes. Northbound goes from 2 to 3. How was decision made to northbound first? When will southbound be done?

WSDOT said...

We looked at the numbers. Northbound SR 167 has higher traffic volumes when compared to southbound. Northbound is also congested for more hours of the day than southbound. We anticipate southbound work could begin sometime during 2025.

dave said...

when do you expect to transition this new lane from HOV to HOT?

will the HOV lane be usable by HOT pass holders?

WSDOT said...

It is the Legislature's responsibility to approve funding and determine timing for the conversion to a tolled lane. Currently, the conversion is scheduled to be complete in 2029. However, we are working with the Legislature to provide information about options to open the tolled lane earlier than 2029. Once the conversion is complete, drivers will be able to use their Good To Go! pass to enter the lane.

dave said...

so pass holders are supposed to wait *8 years* before we can use the lane? just to merge over anyway once we get to Auburn? seems like this wasn't planned out very well.

WSDOT said...

Anyone with two or more passengers in a vehicle can use the HOV lane, with or without a pass.

dave said...

that's the point. pass holders don't need 2 people.

so an 8 year wait. that's a big help.

Macey's Seattle said...

Agree so many semi truck get on from hwy 18 have to merge left and slow down traffic just to get off at 15th st 500 ft after the lane ends 😀

167 Driver said...

You would like a 50% reduction during a Seahawk home game? Why couldn't you plan it during a low traffic event like the Puyallup fair?

WSDOT said...

The work involving the weekend closure has to occur before the Washington State Fair begins. That is part of the contract language. Keep in mind that when contracts are written, not all events are identified or known. Over the past year, we’ve seen multiple events canceled or modified because of Covid. As the blog recommends, if you’re going to the Seahawks pre-season game, go early, carpool , use transit, and give yourself plenty of additional travel time.

Unknown said...

512, I-5 exit, all of Peirce Co. Is a joke. Who designs these bottle necking highways? Every single interchange, as well as many exits have potential, for ease of traffic flow. However, design, construction and lack of knowledge, has obviously curbed traffic flow. Is this a designed for job security? Because it seems intentional.

Scott Thompson said...

It appears that we all survived the 167 shutdown over the weekend. I don’t envy construction workers having to work around traffic with drivers that are too often distracted or impaired. Emergency vehicles and barricade trucks are hit too often and it is a job I wouldn’t want. Closing it down on a weekend to quickly get the project further along makes sense in the big picture. The public can share in the inconvenience for a short term for the safety of everyone.

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