Tacoma’s East L Street reopens to travelers

TACOMA – The three-year detour is over, and Tacoma residents have their bridge back.

At 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, Guy F Atkinson Construction Crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation opened the new East L Street Bridge that spans Interstate 5.

“The businesses and residents along East L Street and nearby 27th and 28th Streets have been very gracious and patient while we worked to replace this bridge,” said Project Engineer Tom Slimak.

The new bridge, which is built to current seismic standards, is 363 feet long and sports 11-foot-wide lanes with six-foot-wide sidewalks and bike lanes.

The original East L Street bridge was built in 1963. In 2019 it was removed so crews could widen I-5 for new HOV lanes, a new northbound general-purpose lane and new northbound auxiliary lanes.

This bridge was the last overpass removed and rebuilt to accommodate HOV lanes on I-5 through Tacoma. Throughout the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program, seven overpasses were removed and six were rebuilt, including: South 38th Street, South Yakima Avenue, Delin Street, Pacific Avenue, East McKinley Way and East L Street.

The one overpass not rebuilt was Tacoma Avenue. Its proximity to Delin Street allowed WSDOT to combine the two streets into one overpass that was constructed from 2007 to 2008.

The East L Street Bridge was one of two bridges reconstructed in the I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road Southbound HOV project. This project also:

  • Built a new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge that meets current seismic standards.
  • Connects the HOV lanes to I-5 and SR 16 in Tacoma.
  • Replaces the I-5 northbound roadway surface from East McKinley Way to Portland Avenue that was constructed in the 1960s.
  • 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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