Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Breaking ground and putting down roots on the next stage of SR 167 construction

By Lizzy Buechel

When you hear about a “groundbreaking” you might picture dignitaries with golden shovels digging into a large mound of dirt. On July 8, our Puget Sound Gateway Program took a different approach to commemorate the start of construction on the next stage of the SR 167 Completion Project, inviting partners to show off their green thumbs and pot an assortment of bare root plants.

Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar and other members of the Puget Sound Gateway program pot plants that will go in the Riparian Restoration Program at the
recent groundbreaking for the project.

The potted vine maple, cascara, flowering currant, and western red cedar will be the first of more than 430,000 plants that will reinvigorate wetlands, improve flood plains, and provide critical habitat to wildlife on 150 acres around Hylebos Creek and Surprise Lake tributaries near the Interurban Trailhead in Fife. As these plants continue to grow and thrive, they will be among the first to inhabit the Riparian Restoration Program area. We will build the Riparian Restoration Program along with other project elements including a new two-mile expressway from I-5 to SR 509, a new interchange at I-5, and a new shared-use path for people who bike, walk and roll.

Port of Tacoma Commissioner Dick Marzano pots native plants as part of the SR 167 Riparian Restoration Program

In his remarks before the planting, Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar explained how the completion of SR 167 and the overarching Puget Sound Gateway Program will “improve freight mobility on the West Coast of the United States by providing a direct access from the Interstate system to the Port [while] restoring wildlife habitat including streams, stream banks and wetlands, and returning over 116 acres of land to the Puyallup Tribe of Indians to steward for generations to come.”

You can hear more of what our speakers at the groundbreaking said by checking out our video.

Construction comes to I-5 in Fife

As early as July 25, we will begin work on I-5 between Wapato Way East and Porter Way in Fife for lane re-striping to set up construction work zones for the project. At 7 p.m. Monday, July 25, we will begin closing four of the five northbound lanes on I-5 and begin re-opening lanes at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday. At 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, crews will begin closing four of the five lanes on southbound I-5 and begin re-opening lanes by 6 a.m. on Wednesday.

When the lanes re-open, people traveling on I-5 in this area can expect reduced lane widths that shift towards the median in both directions. rivers, especially freight haulers, should anticipate the narrower lanes and shoulders. To allow for the safety of our crews and the traveling public, we encourage drivers to reduce speeds to 50 mph in the construction work zone. The narrower lanes will be in place until 2025. Please be cautious and slow down as you move through the area.

Fife Deputy Mayor Dee-Dee Gethers shows off her green thumb preparing native plants at our recent SR 167 groundbreaking event. This marks the start of four years of work making improvements to the SR 167 corridor.

Other work this summer

Crews will begin working at night to haul soil for filling, compacting, and re-grading the area near 20th Street East and Wapato Way East, also known as embankment work, to prepare for the new SR 167 Expressway between I-5 and SR 509 near the Port of Tacoma. We expect this nighttime work to last until fall 2022. Crews will continue daytime embankment and other earthwork into 2023.

People traveling near this area may see increased construction truck traffic at night. There will be bright construction lights in the work zone. People living near this area may hear construction noise from heavy machinery, digging, scrapping, and unloading materials. Earplugs, white noise machines, and blackout curtains may offer relief to those sensitive to construction noise and light.

We expect to wrap up most of the construction work by late 2026.