Interstate-5 bridge in Tacoma, Washington

I-5 Construction Is Almost Done: Here’s What You Should Know

The construction on Interstate-5 (I-5) in Tacoma has caused congestion since the project began in February 2019. The project aims to replace the 1965 southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge with a new bridge that meets the current seismic standards and is wider and straighter than the old bridge.

image of the office

In addition, the project will accomplish the following:

  • Make changes to the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to the southbound I-5,
  • Get rid of the former I-5 bridges over the Puyallup River,
  • Destroy and rebuild the East L Street overpass that crosses I-5,
  • Replace the current concrete pavement from McKinley Avenue to Portland Avenue, and
  • Upgrade signage, lighting, stormwater collection facilities, and water quality treatment facilities.

When the project is complete, new high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes will be available for use in both directions on I-5 from State Route (SR) 16 in Tacoma to Fife.

Read on to learn more about this project and its impact on the community.

The Wait Isn’t Over Yet, But It Shouldn’t Be Much Longer

In June 2021, the first travel lane opened on the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge!

While the construction on I-5 in Tacoma is nearing completion, as of August, there were still a number of items on the “to-do” list, including:

  • Finish removing the former northbound and southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge structures,
  • Shift all southbound I-5 driving lanes from the new northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge over to the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge,
  • Excavation for the natural habitat rebuild, and
  • Open the new HOV lanes going both ways on I-5.
    • The road will need new striping on I-5 from the Fife curve to the Yakima Street overpass in Tacoma.

As of October, the remaining items on the “to-do” list included:

  • Moving all of the traffic lanes of southbound I-5 onto the new bridge.
  • Once that is done, the northbound I-5 traffic lanes can shift over into their final alignment across the Puyallup River.
  • The HOV lanes connected from the Fife Curve to SR 16 are expected to become available for use in summer 2022.
  • The East L Street bridge is also expected to open at the same time as the new HOV lanes on I-5.

image of a large bridge

“An aerial photo taken this October of the new northbound and southbound I-5 Puyallup River bridges. The old bridge structures are being removed while the new southbound bridge is under construction.” (WSDOT Blog)

However, due to constraints regarding the availability of building materials as a result of supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19, the project completion date has been pushed back to summer 2022.

Even though there has been a delay in moving the I-5 lanes toward their ultimate arrangement, the adjusted construction schedule is still inside the range of the initial project conclusion schedule.

What to Expect While Construction Continues

While driving on I-5 in the construction zones, you should be prepared to expect any of the following:

  • Overnight lane and ramp closures when necessary,
  • At least three travel lanes open during daylight hours,
  • Decreased speed limits in construction zones,
  • Narrower shoulders,
  • Lane shifts, and
  • Modifications to exit points.

Overall Improvements from the Project

While the main priority of the project is to introduce HOV lanes on I-5, there are many other improvements to be made as well, including:

  • Safety
    • Added merging lanes,
    • Wider shoulders,
    • Better ramp alignments,
    • Improved curve alignments, and
    • Higher-quality lighting.
  • Traffic and Operations
    • Better mobility as a result of added capacity,
    • Improved roadway alignments, and
    • Relocating on-ramps and exits.
  • Environment
    • Minimizing traffic noise through the use of noise barriers at certain locations,
    • Strengthening or enlarging wetlands in the area, and
    • Utilizing better processes for treating stormwater runoff.
  • Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)
    • Adding closed-circuit traffic cameras,
    • Installing more electronic signage for traveler notifications, and
    • Implementing additional highway advisory radio broadcast transmitters and traffic data collectors.

We’re Here to Help Injured Car Accident Victims

Construction zones can be dangerous areas to drive through. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident through no fault of your own, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages.

You shouldn’t have to suffer as a result of another’s negligence. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our skilled team right away to learn more about what we can do to help you.

Give our Kent personal injury attorney at Dore Law Group, PLLC a call today at (253) 236-3888 to discuss your case.


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