Anyone who drives the local strip of Interstate 5 are experiencing changes to the lanes and exits, and planning accordingly may save drivers a lot of headaches.
Southbound Interstate 5 through Fife toward Tacoma has been reconfigured into two distinct roadways separated by barrier at Portland Avenue. This temporary alignment requires drivers to plan ahead and know which lanes will take them to their destinations.
The temporary southbound lane alignment has two lanes to the right of the barrier, known as collector/distributor lanes, designated to provide access to exits that serve State Route 16, State Route 7, downtown Tacoma and South 38th Street. The three lanes to the left of the barrier are being reserved for travelers heading further south toward South Tacoma, Lakewood and Olympia.
Southbound driver who accidentally miss the exit and find themselves in those three left lanes will have to continue on I-5 and take the 56th Street exit and loop back onto northbound I-5 to Exit 132 to reach those destinations.
The temporary alignment allows crews to replace the original concrete roadway and create a work zone for the new McKinley Street overpass. Detours will be provided for all ramp closures. WSDOT advises motorists to pay extra heed to the new lane alignments.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has also activated ramp meters for the first time at the onramps of 54th Avenue East, Port of Tacoma Road, East Bay Street and Portland Avenue. The ramp meters allow WSDOT crews to make adjustments to the timing as necessary to help clear bottlenecks during peak times.
Most of the roadway construction will occur at night to further avoid congestion caused by the work and reconfigurations. The intersection of Portland Avenue and East 27th Street and the Portland Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-5 will close be closed until July 24, followed by the closure of the Portland Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-5 the southbound SR 167 on-ramp to southbound I-5, the Southbound I-705 and Pacific Avenue on-ramps to southbound I-5 and the eastbound SR 16 to northbound I-5.
Despite the reopening of 20th Street East in Fife, drivers can expect occasional nighttime closures and daytime single-lane closures controlled by flaggers so crews have continued access to work on a new I-5 bridge that spans the Puyallup River and 20th Street East. Final paving of 20th Street East is scheduled to occur in August.
Visit www.tacomatraffic.com for the latest closure information as well as links to videos that explain the temporary lane reconfigurations.