Northbound I-5 HOV lane in Tacoma now open

New lane creates seamless HOV connection from eastbound SR 16

TACOMA – People using the eastbound State Route 16 HOV lane can now enter the northbound Interstate 5 HOV lane and continue into Seattle without changing lanes.

At 7:15 a.m. on Aug. 27, Guy F. Atkinson Construction crews opened the long-awaited new northbound I-5 HOV lane in Tacoma. The new lane connects the existing HOV lane that begins on SR 16 in Gig Harbor with the one that starts in Fife.

“Having a continuous HOV lane from Pierce County to Seattle is something no one has experienced,” said Region Administrator Steve Roark. “It’s finally here, and we know drivers will see huge improvements.”

The new northbound HOV lane is located to the left of the general-purpose lanes. Depending on location, the HOV and general-purpose lanes are separated by a barrier or a solid line.

Remaining southbound I-5 HOV lanes opening soon

Saturday night, Aug. 27, crews will work to finish striping southbound I-5. The work zone is from Port of Tacoma Road in Fife to the King County Line. On Friday morning, Aug. 26, crews opened a portion of the new southbound I-5 HOV lane across the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge to SR 16.

WSDOT will announce when striping is complete and the entire southbound I-5 HOV lane is open.

Near the I-705 interchange, both the northbound and southbound HOV lanes are in the same place that once was occupied by the northbound lanes of I-5. The interstate was widened in 2018, building a new northbound bridge over I-705 and across the Puyallup River. These large-scale changes created the space needed to complete the HOV system in Tacoma.

HOV lanes help maximize the movement of people, and not just vehicles.

History of the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program

The Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program added over 25 HOV lane miles to I-5, SR 16 and SR 167. The Program consists of over 14 projects built from 2001 to 2022 totaling $1.4 Billion dollars.

  • In 2007, WSDOT opened its first HOV lanes in Pierce County on SR 16.
  • In 2010, WSDOT opened the first I-5 HOV lanes in Fife.

WSDOT created a video that recaps the history of I-5 in Fife and Tacoma, and the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program.

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:

  • Built a new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge that meets current seismic standards.
  • Rebuilt the East L Street overpass across I-5.
  • Replaced the original northbound I-5 roadway surface from East McKinley Way to Portland Avenue.
  • Replaced the original southbound I-5 roadway surface from Port of Tacoma Road to East McKinley Way.
  • Upgraded signing, lighting and traffic data sensors.
  • Improved 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.

Slow down – lives are on the line.

In 2022, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.

Even one life lost is too many.

Each year about 670 people are killed nationally in highway work zones. In 2022, Washington had six fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.