Is this the ‘end of the end’ for I-5 construction through Tacoma?

Mar 8, 2022, 5:09 AM | Updated: 5:23 am
I-5, Tacoma...
Construction crews recently placed fresh pavement on future lanes of SB I-5 just past the Port of Tacoma Road overpass. With help from the weather, crews are getting ready to restripe SB I-5 from the I-705 and SR 7 interchange to Port of Tacoma Road. Then, all southbound travel lanes will move on to the Puyallup River Bridge. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)
(Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)

Is this really the “end of the end” for construction on I-5 through Tacoma? Drivers have been burned before with similar promises, but the state is getting close to opening the new southbound Puyallup River Bridge.

We’ve heard this before. I’ve even reported this before, only to have the rug pulled out from under me by the Washington State Department of Transportation. But the ghost lines, changing travel lanes, closures and early exits should all be a memory in a few months.

After 20 years of work on I-5 in Tacoma, what’s another six months between friends?

With some extended good weather, WSDOT’s Cara Mitchell told KIRO Newsradio the contractor could finally open all lanes of the southbound Puyallup River Bridge this month.

“You can’t paint in the rain,” Mitchell said in setting expectations. “We need dry nights to get all this striping in place. They need full closure hours for multiple nights to get everything striped into final alignment.”

But that could come in a few weeks.

Imagine being able to stay in your lanes on southbound I-5 all the way across the Puyallup River. It sounds glorious, especially now that the state has a new auxiliary lane connecting the Port of Tacoma Road and Bay Street.

Construction crews recently placed fresh pavement on future lanes of southbound I-5 just past the Port of Tacoma Road overpass. With help from the weather, crews are getting ready to restripe southbound I-5 from the I-705 and SR 7 interchange to Port of Tacoma Road. Once the striping is finished, all southbound travel lanes will move on to the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge.

“We’ve never had an auxiliary lane on the old bridge before,” Mitchell said. “That was always a merge.”

Just think how much weaving and merging that will eliminate.

Now, this does not mean the entire project will be complete. There is still a work zone around the new L Street overpass, and that will last into the summer. When that work zone is no longer needed, the state will open up the HOV lanes, and the project will be done. For real this time.

“This is a big deal,” Mitchell said. “This is signaling the end of the end.”

But Mitchell again reminded me that this current work is all up to the weather.

“It could change, but we’re trying to be mindful in setting expectations of what’s realistic,” she said.

Keep thinking those dry weather thoughts.

And as we reach the end of this project, be sure to be safe through the remaining work zones and give workers plenty of space.

A suspected drunk driver plowed through the construction zone over the weekend. Investigators say two cars were speeding through the area and hit each other early Sunday morning. The impact sent one of the drivers into the work zone crashing into a contractor truck with two people inside. Both needed to be hospitalized.

Just another reminder to watch your speeds through work zones.


Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


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Is this the ‘end of the end’ for I-5 construction through Tacoma?