CHOKEPOINTS

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.

Chokepoints

Trash is strewn along an Interstate 5 freeway on-ramp as viewed in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by G...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: A glance at current Washington state laws to avoid littering on the road

Littering is still a huge problem on our roads, but are you still required to carry a trash bag in your car?
7 days ago
Expansion joints underneath I-5 (KIRO Newsradio)...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving

If the weather holds, southbound I-5 will be shut-down this weekend through Seattle for the first of a summer’s worth of weekend closures for expansion joint repairs.
12 days ago
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature

The new site and app will allow more than five million users to add money to their accounts instantly alongside 6,000 new card readers and vending machines.
15 days ago
fare...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Sound Transit passes fare reform with diminished ridership accountability checks

Sound Transit no longer has mechanisms in place to check I-D's and track who isn't paying in the first place with their decision to remove law enforcement from the fare enforcement process.
18 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Work to remove bumps along I-5 through downtown Seattle set to bring months of weekend closures

Workers are about kick off work to remove those bumps on I-5 through Seattle, but it's going to come with a heavy price for drivers.
26 days ago
WSDOT, HOV lanes...
Chris Sullivan

Northbound HOV optimism and aggressive litter cleanup in Puyallup

Nearly every morning on the KIRO Newsradio text line, I receive this question: When will the northbound HOV lane open?
28 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

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