What is that large contraption on I-5 in Tacoma?

Jun 15, 2021, 5:25 AM
I-5 Tacoma...
A lot of people have been asking what this large, orange contraption is on I-5 at the Puyallup River Bridge. (WSDOT courtesy photo)
(WSDOT courtesy photo)

Just what is that thing in the middle of the I-5 construction zone in Tacoma?

Tacoma freeways near end of 20-plus year construction cycle (kind of)

KIRO Radio listener Steve hit me up on the text line yesterday asking me to look into this. It is a long structure with orange tubes forming its outer edges, and a large boom on the front end.

“It looks like a big party barge and keeps getting bigger,” Steve wrote. “I drive by it every day, and it keeps growing.”

He isn’t the first person to ask me about this structure, located right at the Puyallup River Bridge. It really is quite odd looking and unique.

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s Cara Mitchell says it is a custom-designed Beam Moving System that is being constructed for the upcoming demolition of the old north and southbound Puyallup River Bridge spans. The girders will be cut at the ends, and this piece of equipment will then lift them out of the way. The girders will then be cut up away from the Puyallup River. The contractor and state didn’t want to risk any pollution to the river, and this is what they came up with.

I also have a few other things on my mind today, so here’s item two:

An update to the impending Good to Go service shutdown

The Good To Go website was supposed to go dark on Friday. The customer call center was also supposed to shut down at the same time. WSDOT has decided to push the two-week closure to July 2.

A press release said: “WSDOT identified critical issues related to customer billing and accounting that must be addressed by vendor ETAN before the transition to the new system takes place. Previously, WSDOT stated the transition start date may be postponed if issues arose that could not be resolved or mitigated.”

The system will eventually be down as a new website is installed and the call center gets a once-over. You will not be able to pay toll bills, and you will not be able to contest charges. You also won’t be able to make any changes to your account.

You will still have to pay tolls while the system is down.

Good to Go system to shut down for two weeks

The state’s Patty Michaud said they want to make the website more user-friendly, so most transactions can be handled without making a call to customer service.

“Once we have this up and running, we’re hoping that customers will use our website more often and that will make it more efficient for our customer service reps to help our customers,” she said.

If you have a Good to Go account, you are asked to check its status online before the old system goes dark. You should make sure your personal information and bill details are correct. If you don’t have an account, you should pay those toll bills soon.

And item number three:

I-5 northbound drivers have a new overpass to drive under

Over the weekend, the first part of the Northgate pedestrian bridge was successfully installed.

Despite the horrible weather Saturday night, workers were able to hoist the walkway over northbound I-5 into place. The southbound lanes of I-5 are expected to close this Saturday night so the next section of the bridge can be lifted into place.

This bridge is designed as a dedicated pedestrian and bike path over the freeway and right into the new light rail station at Northgate. That light rail station is set to open in early October.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


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What is that large contraption on I-5 in Tacoma?