CHOKEPOINTS

Tacoma HOV expansion leaves 8-mile gap

Feb 13, 2024, 5:26 AM | Updated: 7:04 am

I-5 connection...

A new connection to I-5 is being built in Tacoma. (WSDOT)

(WSDOT)

The HOV expansion through Tacoma wrapped up last year, but it left an eight-mile gap.

This is a question I have heard a lot since the work on Interstate-5 (I-5) finished last year.

“Why are there no HOV lanes from Route 16 to down near the Thorne Lane Exit on both I-5 north and south?” Gregory Lund of Tacoma asked me. “On both sides, there seems to be ‘room,’ but they end, which causes extreme backups as the far left lane gets clogged with non-express vehicles.”

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The answer comes down to funding and sequencing. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has a giant to-do list. And it’s up to the legislature to decide which to fund and in what order.

Once a project is done in one area, the next project in that same area goes on the list. That’s why there is still a gap on Highway 522 out of Monroe, where the recent widening didn’t make it all the way, for example.

I checked with WSDOT on where the HOV lanes between 38th and Thorne Lane are on the list. Environmental and design work are set to begin in mid-2029. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2032.

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The current project in that general area is from where the HOV lanes end south of JBLM to DuPont.

That work is underway. It also includes a completely new diverging diamond interchange at the Steilacoom-DuPont Road.

Chris Sullivan is KIRO Newsradio’s Senior Transportation Reporter. Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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