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When will all the Tacoma construction end?

(File photo, Chris Sullivan/KIRO Radio)

The I-5 corridor into and through Tacoma has been under construction for years, even longer when you consider the construction leading up to the Narrows Bridge on Highway 16, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel that we can just barely see.

We just passed a milestone in Tacoma, and KIRO Radio listener Tara asked me to update her on where we are on the multiple projects underway on I-5.

The new Pacific Avenue overpass of I-5 opened to traffic earlier this month, and now that it’s complete contractors can begin taking down and replacing the McKinley Way overpass a few blocks closer to the Tacoma Dome.

Why are these overpasses being replaced? Doug Adamson with the Washington State Department of Transportation said the support columns are in the way of the new HOV lanes being built on the freeway below.

“We have a limited amount of room and the piers — the supports — that hold-up McKinley and Pacific had been or are in the way,” he said.

The McKinley overpass closed last week, and it will remain closed for about a year and a half.  Demolition will begin soon. When that happens, the state will have to close I-5 below it. Those full closures should happen at night.

While McKinley is a little less well-traveled than Pacific, it is a good backdoor into downtown Tacoma, and it runs right in front of the Tacoma Dome. That’s where this closure could really impact drivers. People who are used to parking for free in the neighborhoods above the Dome and then walking to their event won’t be able to do that anymore.

As for the overall projects in Tacoma, construction on the new Puyallup River bridges is going well. They are really taking shape, but we have at least another three years of work before we should finally be free of the orange cones.

“We have a lot more work to go, but we see the finish line,” Adamson said.

And if you need a reminder of the transformation of the freeways around Tacoma, just check out the construction timeline. Construction on the new Narrows Bridge began in 2002. There was construction on Highway 16 for the HOV lanes that opened in 2007. Construction started on I-5 for the HOV lane extension from King County shortly after. The current projects began in 2014 and 2015.

Work should wrap in 2020.

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