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Relief for constant JBLM traffic is coming in more than one way


One of western Washington’s biggest traffic chokepoints is getting some relief soon, with I-5 stretches near Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) getting additional lanes in both directions by 2021.

RELATED: JBLM isn’t the sole problem with I-5 traffic south of Tacoma

The JBLM area along I-5 is notorious for its traffic delays among drivers in the South Sound. A project from the Washington State Department of Transportation will look to alleviate that issue, adding a lane on both north and southbound I-5, from milepost 120 near JBLM to Thorne Lake in Lakewood.

The changes to that stretch of freeway go far beyond the lane extension, too. “Additional auxiliary lanes will be constructed on northbound I-5 between Berkeley Street and Gravelly Lake Drive, and on southbound I-5 in two places — from Gravelly Lake Drive to Thorne Lane and from Berkeley Street to the JBLM main gate,” WSDOT announced.

Officially tagged as “I-5 – Steilacoom-DuPont Rd. to Thorne Lane – Corridor Improvements,” the $243 million project will be completed by summer of 2021. Until then, drivers in the area can expect narrowed lanes on I-5, overnight closures of ramps and lanes, and an extended closure of Union Avenue at Thorne Lane.

The project was first conceived way back in 2015, and will break ground in Pierce County this October.

This comes on the heels of another source of relief for drivers in the JBLM I-5 corridor. The base has officially re-opened its Lewis Main Liberty gate after a four-month closure, providing access to over 200,000 people living on the base.

With an estimated 30,000 people driving through the main gate every day, this should afford some much-needed movement in the already-crowded area.

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