Five lanes open on new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge in Tacoma

New HOV lanes open this summer

TACOMA – It is a milestone that drivers who use southbound Interstate 5 through Fife have been anticipating. 

Early this morning, Friday, April 1, all southbound travel lanes were moved onto the new 1,579-foot-long southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge.

For the past several weeks Guy F. Atkinson Construction crews, working for the Washington State Department of Transportation, closed lanes and ramps at night to re-stripe southbound I-5 to final alignment.

“Drivers are going to immediately notice they are no longer sharing a bridge with the northbound traffic,” said Fife Project Engineer Tom Slimak. “We are excited to be opening lanes and providing some relief for commuters.”

More travel lanes

On Friday, five of six new lanes opened across the southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. People traveling south on I-5 from Fife to Tacoma will have four general purpose lanes and a new auxiliary lane to use while traveling across the new bridge.

The new auxiliary lane runs from the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp the exit for Portland Avenue, Bay Street, and northbound State Route 167. The new lane gives drivers more time and space to merge in and out of traffic. The original bridge, built in 1962, did not have an auxiliary lane between these two ramps.

The old southbound bridge had four general purpose lanes with no room for an auxiliary lane or HOV lane. During construction, southbound I-5 was reduced to three lanes in a temporary configuration across the northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. 

New HOV lanes this summer signals project completion

The southbound HOV lane will remain closed until summer. Crews need this lane as a work zone to finish the new East L Street bridge over I-5. The contractor anticipates opening the HOV lanes on both northbound and southbound I-5 when construction on East L Street bridge is complete this summer. 

Changes coming to northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge

Both directions of I-5 across the Puyallup River have shared the northbound bridge for almost three years while crews built the new southbound bridge and removed the original bridges.

With southbound I-5 travel lanes moving off the northbound bridge, crews will remove temporary barrier and restripe the northbound lanes into their final configuration. Drivers will see overnight lane and ramp closures as this work progresses in the coming weeks. The new northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge opened to travelers in late 2018.

About the project

The I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road Southbound HOV project will connect the HOV lanes to I-5 and SR 16 in Tacoma. This project also:

  • Built a new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge that meets current seismic standards.
  • Rebuilds the L Street overpass across I-5.
  • Replaces the original I-5 roadway surface from McKinley Avenue to Portland Avenue.
  • Upgrades signing, lighting and traffic data sensors.
  • Improves stormwater collection and treatment facilities.
  • Removes the original 1962 I-5 bridges, over the Puyallup River.

Real-time traffic information is available on the WSDOT statewide travel map, the WSDOT app and WSDOT regional Twitter account.

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