MYNORTHWEST NEWS

After 22 years and $1.4 billion, the new I-5 HOV lanes open in Tacoma

Aug 26, 2022, 11:47 AM

After 22 years of construction on Interstate 5, Tacoma’s High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) project will be fully open to the public Sunday, Aug. 28.

The newly opened section runs from Port of Tacoma Road in Fife, at State Route 167 in Pierce County, to the State Route 16 interchange in Tacoma.

HOV lanes and left lane camping explained, again

Construction has been happening for more than two decades at the cost of more than $1.4 billion to pay for shifting lanes, construction barriers, and detours on the highway.

The 90s-era plan called for a continuous HOV system on I-5 from Seattle south to SR 512 and another on SR 16 from I-5 to Port Orchard.

Construction on the project began in 2001 in Nalley Valley at the I-5 and South 38th Street interchange, and in 2010, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) opened its first Pierce County HOV lanes on a span of I-5 from the King County line to the Port of Tacoma Road.

The project’s completion was initially set for the end of 2021, but with supply chain issues creating delays in getting essential building materials, from pipes to concrete, the project had to be delayed by contractor Atkinson Construction.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, one location where drivers will see noticeable improvements is from eastbound SR 16 to northbound I-5, where drivers in the HOV lane have been forced to merge with traffic in the general-purpose lanes, sometimes causing significant backups.

 

In addition to building HOV lanes, WSDOT has also rebuilt bridges to meet current seismic standards, helped the environment by improving stormwater treatment ponds and drainage systems, replaced the original asphalt and concrete roadway on I-5, updated new electronic traffic devices, and added new travel cameras.

The L Street overpass, featuring new dedicated bike lanes, is not finished, but it opened to traffic Friday, Aug. 19, and will require some overnight closures to complete.

The southbound HOV section between SR 16 and King County will be complete by the morning of Sunday, Aug. 28, but that is not quite the end of the project.

There will still be a few overnight closures of the lanes on I-5 to put down reflective pavement markings and paint. After that, the project will be officially complete.

Other projects that will still need to be completed include a levy fortification along the Puyallup River, dedicated left turn lanes on Portland Avenue under I-5, and the rebuilding of the SR 167 on-ramp to southbound I-5.

WSDOT officials urge drivers to still be cautious and not get too complacent in their celebrations though, for the sake of the crews working on finishing up the construction project.

“On any state highway in our state, we ask that you keep our crews safe when you’re driving through a work zone,” WSDOT said. “Please pay attention to the road in front of you and don’t drive distracted. We want all our road crews to go home safely at the end of their shifts.”

MyNorthwest News

Semi Bird...

Bill Kaczaraba

Semi Bird wins endorsement for governor from state GOP

Republican candidate for governor Semi Bird has won the endorsement of the GOP state convention on Saturday.

3 hours ago

Quarantine hotel...

Jake Chapman, KIRO 7 News

International students remain in quarantine in King County hotel after measles exposure

RENTON, Wash. — A group of over a dozen international students from Africa are in quarantine in a King County hotel after they were exposed to measles. As of Friday, according to several host families for the students, they have been in quarantine since April 10. None of the students have tested positive for measles […]

6 hours ago

Washington State University (WSU) President Kirk Schulz, left, and his wife Noel Schulz speak durin...

Steve Coogan

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announces plan to retire in 2025

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announced his plan Friday to retire in June 2025. He has held the position since 2016.

23 hours ago

wsp charges protest I-5...

Heather Bosch and Kate Stone

Charges filed against protesters who shut down I-5 in Seattle

Charges have been filed against six protesters who were involved in the pro-Palestinian protest that shut down I-5 in Seattle on Jan. 6.

1 day ago

Image: The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) closed part of Interstate 90 on Fr...

Steve Coogan

I-90 reopens after a closure due to an emergency tree removal

I-90 reopened after needing to close Friday afternoon due to an emergency tree removal, the Washington State of Transportation said Friday.

1 day ago

The WNBA's Seattle Storm opens new facility in Interbay. (Seattle Storm X post)...

The MyNorthwest staff with wire reports

Seattle Storm unveil new Interbay practice facility, alternative uniforms

The $64 million facility in the Interbay neighborhood is an upgrade for the WNBA's Seattle Storm, which also debuted new alternate uniforms.

1 day ago

After 22 years and $1.4 billion, the new I-5 HOV lanes open in Tacoma