I-5 Tacoma construction nears completion with opening of three new northbound lanes

Project's final phase opens HOV lane in both directions this summer

TACOMA – Travelers on northbound Interstate 5 through Tacoma have three more lanes to choose from.

At 5 a.m. Sunday, June 26, Guy F. Atkinson Construction, working for the Washington State Department of Transportation, opened a new general-purpose lane and two new auxiliary lanes on northbound I-5. The new lanes run from State Route 16 in Tacoma to Port of Tacoma Road in Fife.

"Getting a fourth general-purpose lane open on northbound I-5 past I-705 is significant for commuters," said Project Engineer Tom Slimak. "While travelers will see immediate congestion relief, we’re really looking forward to opening the new HOV lanes in late July."

New HOV lanes signal a project nearing completion

Crews need dry weather to begin final striping to open an HOV lane in both directions of I-5 between Fife and SR 16 in Tacoma. The HOV lanes, which focus on moving people and not just vehicles, will be located to the left of general-purpose lanes. Depending on location, the HOV and general-purpose lanes will be separated by a barrier or a solid line.

One location that drivers will see noticeable improvements is from eastbound SR 16 to northbound I-5. Travelers in the HOV lane are currently forced to merge with traffic in the general-purpose lanes, sometimes causing significant backups. Once the final section of HOV lanes open, that merge will go away.  

About the project

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

  • Builds a new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge that meets current seismic standards.
  • Rebuilds the L Street overpass across I-5.
  • Replaces the original northbound 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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