I-5 Tacoma: WSDOT to build more HOV lanes, new bridges

Local officials gathered at McKinley Park Thursday morning for a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of a three-year, $168 million Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) project that will accommodate northbound and southbound high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes on Interstate 5 near the Tacoma Dome.

The project is part of the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program to provide operational improvements and HOV lanes on Interstate 5, State Route 16, and State Route 167. According to WSDOT officials, HOV lanes will ensure that transit, vanpools and carpools can move efficiently through the corridor during periods of area traffic congestion.

The project will widen northbound and southbound Interstate 5 to four general-purpose lanes and one additional HOV lane from M Street to near L Street. To allow for the widened roadway, WSDOT will replace the Pacific Avenue and McKinley Way bridges over Interstate 5, and build a new northbound Interstate 5 bridge over the Interstate 705 interchange. Other improvements include a new stormwater collection and treatment system, and replacement of all existing northbound and southbound pavement with new reinforced concrete. The project also replaces the illumination system and enhances the existing driver information systems including traffic cameras, variable message signs, and traffic data systems.

Drivers can expect narrowed lanes and shifted alignments in both directions of Interstate 5. In mid-September, crews will begin the process of demolishing and rebuilding the Pacific Avenue overpass, which will require a lengthy closure and detour around the work.

The new HOV lanes will open after two projects that will create HOV lanes across the Puyallup River are completed. The first of those two projects is tentatively scheduled to be advertised to contractors for construction bids this fall. In the interim, drivers will gain one additional general-purpose lane to ease congestion.

Design work on the project was completed in March. The project went out for bid on March 31, and a contract was awarded to Spokane, Wash.-based Max J. Kuney Company. Construction is scheduled to begin in August, and the project will be completed in 2017. Gas Tax revenue is paying for a majority of the project.

More information is available online here.