Local Information

In the rear-view mirror: Second phase of improvements to I-5 wraps up in Lakewood

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 11:32

Cara Mitchell, communications, 360-357-2703

Third phase of construction begins in 2023

LAKEWOOD – There is great news to share for travelers who use Interstate 5 in Lakewood. Phase two of construction to widen the highway and rebuild intersections is now substantially complete.

That means the end to continuous overnight detours and ramp and lane closures on I-5 from Gravelly Lake Drive in Lakewood to 41st Division Drive at JBLM. There may still be some occasional ramp, single lane and shoulder closures as some final items are completed, but those should wrap up in the next few weeks.

This construction milestone comes two months after new high occupancy vehicle lanes opened as part of the $242 million project that rebuilt the Thorne Lane and Berkeley Street interchanges to allow for a wider I-5. The three years of work – and construction zones – helps relieve chronic traffic congestion and improve mobility along I-5 near JBLM.

“We thank residents, businesses, commuters and service members for their patience during this complex project,” said Washington State Department of Transportation Regional Administrator John Wynands. “This project was a success because of the great cooperation with those who live and work in this area.”

Project history

Since October 2018, WSDOT’s contractor, Guy F. Atkinson Construction, removed and rebuilt the I-5 interchanges at Berkeley Street and Thorne Lane to make room for new HOV lanes. The new interchanges removed a potential conflict between passenger trains and vehicles, and people who walk or ride. This work also raised the elevation of I-5 at Berkeley Street by 14 feet, eliminating the expense of maintaining water pumps in a location where I-5 sat below the water table.

Future HOV and multimodal plans
In 2023, a third phase of construction will rebuild the I-5 and Steilacoom-DuPont Road interchange to complete widening of I-5. This will extend the HOV lane near 41st Division Drive in both directions into the DuPont area. WSDOT’s overarching goal is to complete the HOV system between DuPont and the new HOV lanes that are nearly complete in Tacoma.

In 2024, a separate project off I-5 will build a new non-motorized path from Gravelly Lake Drive to Thorne Lane in Lakewood as the fourth phase of the overall work. The Gravelly-Thorne Connector will run parallel to but separate from I-5, providing access to Lakewood’s Tillicum neighborhood for people who walk and ride. Until the Gravelly-Thorne Connector is complete, bicyclists going south on I-5 from Gravelly Lake Drive will use the shoulder on the exit to Berkeley Street to access local shared use paths.

A future shared-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians that would run parallel to roads open to the public between Lakewood and DuPont is being evaluated by stakeholders.

About the I-5 JBLM Corridor Improvements Project

Over the past decade, populations in Thurston and Pierce counties have grown exponentially leading to increased traffic congestion along I-5. In recent years, WSDOT, along with local city, county and JBLM officials, have refocused efforts to improve travel times and operations on the existing highway.

In July 2015, the Washington State Legislature included $495 Million for the I-5 Mounts Road to Thorne Lane Interchange - Corridor Improvements project, as part of the Connecting Washington transportation revenue package. This overall project was broken down into four separate construction projects, two of which are now complete.

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