Local Information

New I-5/Thorne Lane interchange now open in Lakewood

Monday, November 2, 2020 - 08:06

Cara Mitchell, communications, 360-357-2703

Temporary ramp detours in place through spring 2021

LAKEWOOD – A big milestone was reached over the weekend at the newly upgraded Interstate 5/ Thorne Lane interchange in Pierce County.

At 5 a.m., the Washington State Department of Transportation design-build contractor Atkinson Construction opened the second new Thorne Lane bridge. The bridge serves travelers exiting from southbound I-5 to neighborhoods off Thorne Lane and Murray Road in Lakewood. 

The new bridge creates a new driving experience for southbound I-5 travelers exiting to Thorne Lane. Drivers will now encounter a left turn only at the end of the ramp, taking them across the new bridge to reach the Murray Road roundabout. There, they can choose to either cross the new “high” bridge to go west to the Tillicum neighborhood or go east to Woodbrook neighborhood.

Construction will continue in the area while crews finish building connecting ramps and a barrier-separated collector/distributor lane that will carry traffic between Thorne Lane and Berkeley Street, parallel to southbound I-5.

Until then, here’s what travelers need to know:

  • Ramp access to southbound I-5 at the Thorne Lane interchange is available only from the Tillicum neighborhood via Thorne Lane. Drivers will temporarily continue to cross the railroad tracks to reach the Thorne Lane on-ramp to southbound I-5.
  • Travelers coming from Murray Road, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Logistics Gate or the Woodbrook neighborhood will detour via northbound I-5 to Gravelly Lake Drive, then onto southbound I-5.

The new bridges

On Friday, Oct. 23, crews opened the new 344-foot long Thorne Lane “high” bridge that spans all lanes of I-5 and the railroad tracks. It connects local streets using new roundabouts at Murray Road and Union Avenue.

The two new Thorne Lane interchange bridges allow I-5 to be widened and eliminates delays travelers have historically faced waiting to cross the existing railroad tracks.

Old bridge demolition scheduled Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7

The last major step in advancing the final work on the new Thorne Lane interchange comes with removing the overpass that opened in 1954.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6 and again on Saturday, Nov. 7, both directions of I-5 will be reduced to a single lane. That single lane will detour up and over the Thorne Lane off- and on-ramps, which now include a roundabout in the northbound direction. In the southbound direction, travelers will cross a temporary work zone during overnight hours.

Travelers are encouraged to plan additional time and expect heavy congestion. WSDOT traffic engineers anticipate up to 3-mile backups on both northbound and southbound I-5 approaching the overpass during the overnight work.

The overnight lane closures will be in place until 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 and 6:30 a.m., Nov. 8 respectively.

Why is this work happening?

The lane closures allow crews to demolish the old overpass at night when traffic volumes are at their lowest. For safety reasons, this work cannot take place over live traffic.

An updated construction schedule that lists overnight ramp closures for this project is available on Tacomatraffic.com. Before heading out the door, travelers can find the latest road conditions on the WSDOT app and by following the WSDOT regional Twitter feed.

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