First I-5 carpool lane in Pierce County to open Saturday

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced today that a three-mile section of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane could open on northbound Interstate 5 in north Pierce County as early as Sat., Oct. 2, weather-permitting.

The HOV lane, the first to open on I-5 in Pierce County, will extend from Wapato Creek, just north of the Port of Tacoma Road, to the King County line, where it will join WSDOT’s existing HOV system. It will offer a smoother, faster trip for transit and carpools. Crews are completing final work to prepare for opening the lane, which includes installing signs and striping. If inclement weather slows work progress, the opening of the lane could be delayed.

Drivers can use carpool lanes whenever there are two or more people, including the driver, in the vehicle. The definition of “people” is not limited by age or whether other occupants are licensed drivers. Buses, emergency vehicles and motorcycles can use freeway HOV lanes regardless of how many people on board. Hybrids and other “green” vehicles must abide by the occupants rule.

The project received $35.3 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for project construction.

“This project is a real success story for how stimulus dollars are working for Washington,” said Olympic Region Administrator Kevin Dayton. “Due to an aggressive and strategic approach to environmentally-sensitive, in-water work early in the project the contractor was able to accelerate the construction schedule and open this lane to traffic nearly a year ahead of schedule. This lane is a tangible benefit from those dollars that will improve the quality of life for motorists in Pierce County.”

WSDOT also is building a southbound HOV lane on I-5 in the same area. The southbound lane, which will extend from the King County Line to near 54th Avenue East, is scheduled to open to traffic by the end of October.

All of this work is part of the Port of Tacoma to King County line HOV project, which is part of WSDOT’s larger. The Pierce County HOV Program is building carpool lanes and making other improvements to I-5 and SR 16 in Pierce County. For more information about this project and the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program, visit .