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

Jun 18, 2014, 6:55 AM | Updated: 7:33 am
Claudia Bingham Baker, the Washington State Department of Transportation in that region, said it's just people heading to JBLM causing the major traffic congestion problems. The population growth in the cities and counties around the base has exploded. I-5 has reached its over-saturation point. (AP Photo/File)
(AP Photo/File)

The 20-mile stretch of I-5 south of Tacoma, at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord exits, is on the most wanted list of traffic congestion in Washington. You can sit there for hours without there even being an accident, a stalled car, an Air Force plane, or Army helicopter to distract you.

It is packed and it’s gotten worse over the last few years.

Lee Murray works at JBLM and said the stretch of I-5 from south Tacoma to Lacey is one of the worst congestion spots in the state. Some days it just doesn’t move. Lee wanted to know why it’s gotten so bad and what’s being done about it.

Claudia Bingham Baker, with the Washington State Department of Transportation in that region, said it’s not just JBLM causing the problem. The population growth in the cities and counties around the base has exploded. I-5 has reached its over-saturation point.

“What we had was a highway that was built 50 years ago that was slowly reaching its capacity, and in about 2010 we began to see those factors come together to make the traffic demand higher than the capacity of the highway,” she said.

According to Bingham Baker, the Washington State Patrol has altered the truck scale operations at Mounts Road to get trucks off I-5 during peak hours. JBLM has staggered morning workouts, and the state is making small improvements. It is adding message signs and ramp meters. It has added an auxiliary lane between Thorne Lane and Berkeley.

The state is in the middle of a study to see what major improvements can be made to fix the congestion.

“To look at if you could wave a wand and change the configuration of I-5 and the four ramps between Steilacoom-DuPont Road and Thorne Lane, what would you want it to look like,” said Bingham Baker.

She said the state has 170 good ideas on how to fix the area, and engineers are now whittling that list down to something more manageable and realistic. The ideas include new lanes to the freeway and even adding more overpasses on I-5 to connect JBLM to the other side of I-5.

But she said the state is just at the beginning of this. The fixes are going to be a long time coming. “What you figure out, what you’re going to build, you need to find the funding,” she said. “You need to go through the design process. The last stage of this whole long process is churning dirt out in the field and actually building it.”

So the drive between Tacoma and Lacey is going to be bad for a while, but the state is working on it.

This chokepoint file came to us from Lee Murray who works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The stretch of I-5 from south Tacoma to Lacey is one of the worst congestion spots in the state. Some days it just doesn’t move. Lee wanted to know why it’s gotten so bad and what’s being done about it.

Chokepoints

electric vehicles...
Chris Sullivan

Market expert: Consumer confidence in electric vehicles is on the rise

Price, charging infrastructure, and range are the three improving indexes for gradual consumer confidence in electric vehicles.
4 days ago
flight, 5G...
Chris Sullivan

Major US airlines warn of flight disruptions Wednesday as new 5G service starts

Many airlines are warning of flight delays Wednesday as new 5G frequencies are fired up by cell phone companies that could interfere with landing.
6 days ago
reversible lane, 520...
Chris Sullivan

Reversible lane between SR 520 and I-5 under construction

The state Department of Transportation is ramping up work to add a reversible HOV lane between SR 520 and the I-5 express lanes in Seattle.
6 days ago
snow removal...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT accuses Kittitas County of ‘misinformation’ on snow removal dispute

The head of the Washington State Department of Transportation is basically saying Kittitas County is lying about its snow removal complaint.
10 days ago
Puget Sound commute...
Chris Sullivan

Uncertainty surrounding COVID, work schedules brings changes to Puget Sound commute

Commute times typically see a dip over the winter holidays, but it springs right back after the first of the year. That didn't happen this year.
11 days ago
pass closures...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT head tells legislature vaccine mandate had no impact on recent pass closures

The head of the Washington State Department of Transportation faced angry lawmakers Monday, asking if the vaccine mandate had an impact on pass closures.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
JBLM isn’t the sole problem with I-5 traffic south of Tacoma