Monday, November 20, 2023

I-5 HOV project in Pierce County aims to reduce bridge strikes on JBLM

By Cara Mitchell

It happened again. On November 3, a semi-truck got stuck on Pendleton Avenue under Interstate 5 in Pierce County. It's the fourth bridge strike this year at this location. Every time it happens, we hope that the damage is superficial because those bridge girders are holding up the lanes of I-5. So far, we've been lucky.

A semi got stuck under I-5 on Pendleton Avenue on Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Nov. 3. This caused superficial damage to the bridge girders that support I-5.

Luck only goes so far, and we have an opportunity to help reduce bridge strikes at this location from repeatedly happening.

The first stage of work for the I-5 Mounts Road to Steilacoom-DuPont Road Corridor Improvements project is underway, and coincidently, Pendleton Avenue is where our contractor is focusing first. In addition to widening I-5 for HOV lanes, this project will increase the vertical clearance on Pendleton Avenue under I-5. The bridge, which is well marked as having low clearance, will rise from the current 12 feet, 4 inches, to well over 16 feet. This means trucks traveling on Pendleton Avenue will be less likely to hit the bridge girders that support I-5 once the project is finished. That will be a relief for all of us.

Curious minds want to know…

So how do you get a large semi un-stuck from under a bridge like that? On the most recent one, crews had to deflate the tires on the semi and disengage the airbags so the truck could be lowered and hauled away.

A semi got stuck on Pendleton Avenue under I-5 on Nov. 3.

Funding for big projects like this doesn't come around very often, so when it does, we try to incorporate practical improvements like this into the design.

Work starting on northbound I-5

In this first stage of construction, northbound I-5 will be widened north of Steilacoom-DuPont Road. Part of that widening includes building a new northbound I-5 bridge over Pendleton Avenue. Traffic on I-5 will be shifted toward the median while crews work on the outside shoulders of the interstate. Three northbound lanes will be maintained during times when we typically see peak travel times. Travelers on Pendleton Avenue will see some overnight closures and alternating one-way traffic while this work is underway.

Pendleton Avenue under I-5 on JBLM is part of a work zone for the I-5 Mounts Road to Steilacoom-DuPont Road improvement project. Crews will soon begin work to expand northbound I-5 in the area.

Work to build new roundabout begins

Crews have also started removing vegetation for the future Steilacoom-DuPont Road ramp connection to I-5 and the new roundabout, located in DuPont. As these photos below show, much of this work will happen away from live traffic.

Crews recently cleared trees and brush at the new roundabout location behind Barksdale Station in DuPont.

The new ramp and roundabout that will connect drivers to I-5 is expected to open in 2026. We will share updated schedule information on the project webpage and in future blogs as the project progresses.

Work zone safety

Please stay alert in all work zones to help keep crews safe. Don't drive distracted and keep your speed in check. We've seen work zone collisions in the past delay the progress of construction projects. We can all work together to help keep this project on track by consistently practicing safe driving through work zones. Most importantly, all our crews want to make it home to their families at the end of their shifts. We appreciate your help on this important issue.


Carl said...

Why does improving height clearance of an underpass require widening the freeway? You could just lower the road. Or is this the way you justify freeway widening?

WSDOT said...

Carl, to extend the HOV lanes south from 41st Division Drive, we do need to widen the interstate. The Pendleton Avenue roadway will be lowered as much as possible without impacting the existing railroad bridge foundations and multiple utilities. I-5 will also need to be raised to provide the required vertical clearance over Pendleton Avenue.

prem said...

Instead restricting semi-truck from using underpass, wsdot is willing to raise it. we have temperate reaching record every year, wsdot to continue to widen freeway with unreasonable justification. HOV is great but you can easily convert 1 lane to HOV lane. every study have shown that expanding freeway lead to more traffic. wsdot need fund transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure better

WSDOT comment policy

Post a Comment