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Drivers take big risks trying to make illegal exits from I-5 in Tacoma

WSP Trooper Brooke Bova caught a driver making an illegal lane change right in front of her Thursday in Tacoma. (WSP/Brooke Bova)

We saw just how far drivers are willing to go to make their exits in Tacoma this week.

Instead of adjusting to temporary changes made to southbound I-5 in Tacoma, drivers made illegal lane changes, which resulted in many close calls, in order to get to their exits to downtown and Highway 16.

The Washington State Department of Transportation created separated collector-distributor lanes for drivers using downtown Tacoma exits, which includes Highway 16 and South 38th. A Jersey barrier separated the dedicated lanes from I-5, save for a small section of roadway that drivers were using to cut over to Highway 16 at the last minute.

KIRO driver Ryan Merrifield tweeted me yesterday about the problem.

“It’s especially bad at that junction right now as the concrete barrier runs out in time for people to cut from the through lanes to 16.”

Drivers were crossing multiple lanes, including a double white line and, in many cases, the white triangle known as the gore point.

Washington State Trooper Brooke Bova documented the illegal lane changes on Twitter.

“Cars are just going everywhere — any way they want to on the freeway right now,” Bova told KIRO 7.

Bova said as it was as if the freeway lanes didn’t exist.

Trooper Bova said it was so dangerous Thursday the state told her to get off the road to keep from getting hit.

KIRO 7 caught the chaos on video:

After the chaos, WSDOT re-striped the lanes to Highway 16 overnight, allowing crews to extend the barrier and make it more difficult, if not impossible, for drivers to cut over from I-5.

Drivers heading to I-705, State Route 7, State Route 16, or 38th Street need to be prepared to exit early, otherwise, they have to detour back around.

Drivers who get in those exit lanes by mistake will be able to enter I-5 at Highway 16.

Tell Chris about a Chokepoint or ask a traffic question @kirortraffic via Twitter.

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