WSDOT finishes crucial phase of Puget Sound Gateway Project
Truck drivers finally have a little more elbow room to get into and out of the Port of Tacoma, now that the 70th Street overpass has been replaced.
I’m sure you have seen the trucks lined up over I-5 on the 70th Street overpass. If you live or work in Fife, you’ve probably noticed all those trucks backed up into your neighborhoods. That should finally come to an end with the opening the Wapato Way East Bridge, which is just up I-5 from the 70th overpass. It opened Monday morning.
“The existing 70th bridge is two lanes, one lane in each direction,” Gateway Program manager John White said. “The new Wapato Way East Bridge is four lanes, so there’s an increase in capacity.”
There is also a dedicated bike and pedestrian facility that will be much safer.
“If you’re doing that (biking or walking) on the existing bridge, you’re probably taking your own life into your hands,” White said.
Bikes and pedestrians will have to use the 70th Street overpass until the new shared lane on the new bridge is tied into the Interurban Trail later this summer.
There is also a new double-lane roundabout on the Port of Tacoma side of the overpass, which will likely take some getting used to. It was designed with freight in mind, and that means non-truck drivers need to be very careful sharing the lanes.
“The signs you see out there are reminding people of the protocol to not creep up on the trucks or drive next to the trucks, especially when they need to straddle the lanes going through the roundabout,” White said.
That roundabout replaces the signal at 70th and SR 99, which White said is a huge deal. That light led to the trucks backing-up and a lot of congestion.
But this is just the start of the Puget Sound Gateway Program, which will eventually finish off Highway 167 between Puyallup and I-5 and build out Highway 509 in Tacoma and out of Sea-Tac to I-5.
This fall, you will start seeing a lot of work being done on the I-5/Highway 516 interchange to prepare for the SR 509 expansion in King County.
Next year, work will begin on a new 167/I-5 interchange in Pierce County, where the current 70th Street overpass now sits. A two mile freeway will then be built from that interchange to 509 to the east of the Port of Tacoma. All of this work is funded and should be complete by 2025.
The final phase will see a four mile freeway built from the east side of the new I-5 interchange to Puyallup to finally finish 167 all the way. It will also see the construction of the 509 extension from the airport to I-5 near Highway 516. This phase has not been fully funded.
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