Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Looking at alternatives for I-5 through the Nisqually River Delta

By Mark Krulish

It’s the traditional home of the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Visitors to the ecologically diverse Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge know the area is home to bald eagles, waterfowl and a pit stop for migrating birds. The river at this location divides Thurston and Pierce counties. Within this setting sits Interstate 5 – the main mover of people and goods along the west coast, from Mexico to Canada.

How will this I-5 corridor look and feel in the future? That’s what we are studying right now. …and we need your input.

We are tasked with making the best decisions for the future of this critical connection. Every step of the way, we need you to help us make those decisions.

Now through March 1, we have several design options that we want your feedback on.

Studying the alternatives

Lately we have been busy looking at different alternatives to improve this roadway. As part of this process, we have been collaborating with local governments, local tribes, transit agencies, JBLM and the Federal Highway Administration.

A look at one of the design options for the Nisqually Valley project, including a new elevated I-5 interchange

In our February round of advisory meetings, we will look at these design options to get feedback from these representatives.

But we also need input from the public. This is where we need your help.

Submit your feedback

Through the end of February, our engage web page will host a few different design options under consideration.

A look at another design option for the Nisqually Valley project

We have simple improvements to reduce demand for single-occupancy vehicles. This would rely on coordination with local governments and entities to work in tandem with us to implement their own strategies for things such as express bus service and providing support for alternative travel modes – such as walking and biking. This option could also include environmental improvements for the Nisqually River channel by replacing the existing bridges with new structures.

We also have designs to widen I-5 in the area by adding general purpose or HOV lanes, converting general purpose lanes to HOV, or building a long, elevated bridge up over the Nisqually River Delta area.

Take a look at the designs on our engage web page. Once you have reviewed them, there will be a place to leave your feedback. This is the best way to ensure your comments are incorporated into final report.

Keep up with the latest news on our project page, where we post materials and videos of our meetings with local agencies. You can also sign up for email updates here. Simply click on the link and enter your email address.


Unknown said...

I suppose you have already looked at finding a truck route for truckers to avoid Olympia by cutting from south of Tumwater to Mounts roads. Use part of Yelm highway and old 99.

Howard Glastetter said...

From 50+ year Nisqually resident: Howard Glastetter
Here is another design thought: I-5 bridge work will start at the top of the hill at Exit 114 and end at Exit 116. Exit 116 is also the current south end of the light rail line. Design the bridges with an extra lane to accommodate a future light rail extension that will go directly to the state capitol.

Howard Glastetter said...

Here is another thought from Howard Glastetter:

Design the river bridge to be a double decker, The bridge could be built above the current two river bridges. It would be four or more lanes wide and still have a smaller footprint than the two current bridges. The northbound lane could be the lower level that would allow easy entry from Martan Way. The bridge could be built while leaving the current I-5 configuration 'as is' to handle traffic until bridge completion.

Unknown said...

I agree to build up. I lost my house in 1997.

Howard Glastetter said...

Name: Howard Glastetter. 50+ year Nisqually Valley resident. Final Thought.
No matter what the design, the bridge still has a problem. A serious accident that completely blocks traffic flow on a bridge direction leaves no quick alternate transportation solution. I suggest viewing Old Pacific Hwy (OPH) as an option. Allow it to be quickly changed from a two or three lane multi direction road to be a reversible road from Durgin Road to Exit 116. At least half of OPH is already three lanes now. Build another wide industrial road from the bottom of Exit 114 to connect to OPH at Durgin Road. Industrial traffic from the gravel pit would find immediate use for that road now. In the event of a full directional blockage, OPH (and the new road) could be quickly made one way in the direction needed.

Howard Glastetter said...

I thought I was done commenting, but I attended the 3-17-2023 DOT Nisqually River Council presentation on current bridge options. One of options was building a new bridge with THREE lanes each way. I-5 is already a current three lane choke point through the valley. More of the same would be a big mistake.


Howard Glastetter

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