New I-5 Lanes Open, Others Close in Tacoma

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Washington I-5 Traffic | Washington I-5 Construction | I-5 Exit Guide

On Saturday, September 21, the Washington State Department of Transportation opened a new southbound I-5 auxiliary lane from South 38th Street to South 56th Street in Tacoma. The new lane will give South 38th Street travelers a dedicated lane to merge onto southbound I-5.

Crews have also temporarily close the far left lane of southbound I-5 from South 38th Street to South 56th Street. This closure creates a median work zone allowing crews to construct two HOV sign structures, one of the final steps towards opening HOV connections between I-5 and SR 16. The left lane closure will be in place, around-the-clock, for approximately six weeks or until the work is finished. During this work:

  • Southbound I-5 past the Tacoma Mall will have three general purpose lanes open, plus the new auxiliary lane.
  • The collector/distributor ramp at South 56th Street will become a temporary through lane.
  • The westbound South 56th Street on-ramp to southbound I-5 will close. Westbound South 56th street drivers will still be able to access southbound I-5 using the left turn lane at Tacoma Mall Boulevard.
  • Drivers can expect to see delays in this area during regular commute hours.

Construction on I-5 in Tacoma approaching the Puyallup River

Construction on the last piece of the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV program that builds a new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge is now underway. To do this work, some important changes are underway for southbound I-5 in Fife and Tacoma that drivers need to be aware of. This video describes what lanes travelers need to be in so they can reach their destinations.

  • Southbound I-5 drivers exiting to State Route 167, Bay Street and Portland Avenue will need to stay in the right lane near Port of Tacoma Road to reach exit 135;
  • Port of Tacoma Road drivers headed to southbound I-5 will follow the same temporary collector/distributor lane across the old southbound I-5 bridge to rejoin southbound I-5;
  • Southbound I-5 travelers headed to Tacoma’s city center, SR 16 or Olympia will use one of the three left lanes near Port of Tacoma Road to reach their destinations.
  • All lanes of northbound I-5 from East McKinley Way to the exit of SR 167 are now shifted towards the center of the highway. This traffic shift creates a work zone allowing construction crews to widen northbound I-5, remove the last section of the East L Street overpass, and replace the original roadway surface.

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