Claudia Bingham Baker , WSDOT Communications, 360-480-3648 (Tumwater)
UPDATE on Tuesday, June 25. Due to rain, the restriping work to attach the new ramp to the highway was postponed. The ramp is currently scheduled to open to traffic Friday morning, June 28, weather permitting.
TACOMA – Weather-permitting, at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, June 25, crews will open a new southbound Interstate 5 exit to South 38th Street in Tacoma as part of its I-5/SR 16 Eastbound Nalley Valley project.
The ramp was originally scheduled to open the end of July. Good weather, detailed planning and rapid progress contributed to the early opening.
“This ramp provides key access to the Tacoma Mall, Costco and other businesses,” said Olympic Region Administrator Kevin Dayton. “Mowat Construction did a great job planning the work and getting it built well ahead of schedule.”
“We are thrilled to be able to open the new ramp early,” said Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson. “We’ve appreciated the patience local businesses have shown since the ramp closed in April. We’d also like to thank motorists for finding ways around the closure and keeping I-5 moving.”
A dry night for roadway striping is necessary to tie the new ramp into the highway. Crews are scheduled to close the southbound I-5 exit to westbound State Route 16 at 11 p.m. Monday, June 24, and to reopen it by 5 a.m. Tuesday, June 25. In the case of inclement weather, the ramp closure for striping work, and the reopening of the new South 38th Street ramp, will be postponed.
Once the new ramp does open, it will feature a newly built bridge that sports 11-foot-wide shoulders, a longer deck, and improved lighting and signing. Its alignment and profile have been revised to make it compatible with the ultimate configuration of the I-5/State Route 16 interchange.
Although motorists may not notice much difference now, the ramp’s profile will become important when WSDOT builds the third and final project to enhance and expand the I-5/SR 16 interchange.
The third project includes a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) bridge across the Nalley Valley viaduct and direct-access ramps connecting I-5 HOV lanes with SR 16 HOV lanes. Since the new southbound I-5 ramp profile already matches the needs of this future project, it won’t have to be reconstructed when these improvements are built, saving time and tax dollars.
The third project is scheduled for construction between 2020 and 2023.