Fife’s orange striping test is coming to end, did it work?

Sep 26, 2023, 5:02 AM | Updated: 8:32 am

fife orange striping...

(Photo from Chris Sullivan)

(Photo from Chris Sullivan)

Drivers should be used to the orange stripes on Interstate 5 near 70th Street in Fife, but they will be going away soon.

The orange striping was put in over the summer in about a mile stretch of I-5 through the Fife construction zone. They will be going away in the next few weeks as the construction of new bridges over Hylebos Creek moves into another phase.

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“We have this median work, which is building the new bridges for the relocated Hylebos, so we’re building the inner halves of those bridges,” Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) project engineer Tom Slimak said.

The contractor is getting close to finishing that work. The project will lower the flood plain by several feet, meaning I-5 should no longer flood in heavy storms around this corner.

“Coming up around the middle of October, we anticipate we will be shifting traffic back towards the median, and drivers will be on those new bridges while we then establish a work zone on the outsides to build the remaining halves of those bridges,” Slimak said.

So, another major traffic shift is coming up, and drivers will move to the inside of the freeway. The 50-mile-an-hour speed limit will go away at the same time.

“We won’t have all lanes as a regulatory speed reduction once we shift back,” Slimak said. “We’ll be doing it an advisory speed in for these inside lanes as you’re adjacent to that barrier to slow down,  but it will not be all lanes a regulatory speed reduction.”

The orange striping will also disappear after the traffic shift.

Washington and several other states are testing the orange paint for the Federal Highway Administration, which wants to know if it makes work zones safer.

The idea is that drivers see another visual cue that they are in a work zone.

“When we shift back to the median, we will remove those orange stripes, and then we’ll collect all that data that we’ve been collecting over the last several months from traffic operations and comments from the public to see if we can draw any conclusions on the benefits of the orange striping,” Slimak said.

All the data will be given to the feds to see if it worked.

There were nearly 1,200 work zone accidents across Washington last year, with 22% of those crashes in Pierce County, where this work zone is located.

I would like to know if you changed your behavior in this work zone because of the orange striping or if you think it had any impact. Send me your comments.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


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Fife’s orange striping test is coming to end, did it work?