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?
The lane will start before Highway 410 in Sumner and join the current HOT lane by Highway 18 in Auburn. According to Cara Mitchell from the Washington Department of Transportation, it is scheduled to open in late June, with some upcoming lane shifts in the work zone.
“They don’t want to open it up and then close it back,” she said. “They have drainage work they have to finish. They’ve got some signage and bridge supports they are waiting to get installed in there, and they have final striping as well.”
Mitchell said this should make a big difference to that specific chokepoint.
Our traffic models basically supported doing the northbound direction first and getting this thing built,” she said. “It’s worse in the morning than it is in the afternoon, believe it or not.”
When this HOV lane opens, it will be free to those who meet the requirements, but it won’t stay that way. It will eventually be converted into a HOT lane, where you can pay your way in, just like the rest of the system up to the 405 in Renton. While its currently unknown when this transition will happen, its rumored it will happen a year after it opens.
Now, to the trash pickup on 512 in the Puyallup area. So much of it has piled up that the state is actually blocking lanes to give Department of Ecology workers a sizable work zone for cleanup.
Mitchell believes the grassy median collects everything.
“It’s an area that we get a lot of calls and complaints about,” she said. “It’s also an area where we have a cable barrier, and it’s not as wide as some of the other medians on some of our other state highways in Pierce County. We really want to make sure that the crews have a good sized and protected work zone out there.”
The trash pickup is working in the eastbound direction this week, closing the inside lane for a defined stretch each day. Workers collected enough trash on Monday to fill 240 large bags. They are working in between the primary commutes to minimize the impact.
“We’re actually doing this work around the Spring Fair hours,” Mitchell said. “We’re not doing anything on Thursday. We’re timing this to thread the needle around those weekend hours with the Spring Fair.”
Next Monday and Tuesday, they will be working the same area between Puyallup and Portland Avenue, but in the westbound direction.
Mitchell said this work is a good reminder to secure your loads and avoid littering.
“We need drivers to work a little harder in securing their loads and keep their litter contained inside of their vehicles,” she said.
Make sure to give these workers plenty of room through these work zones. And be sure to move over a lane, if you can. If you can’t, please slow down significantly.