After years of construction, work begins soon on the final HOV segment of I-5 in Tacoma

TACOMA – South Sound commuters have been waiting years for a stretch of I-5 to be open without construction crews. 

After roughly a decade of construction, work on the final HOV segment of I-5 in Tacoma begins next month.

According to a news release to WSDOT, work will begin in February to design and build a wider Interstate 5 between the Tacoma Dome and the Puyallup River to make room for new HOV lanes. To do this, a new bridge will be built to carry the southbound lanes of the interstate, and the old bridges will be demolished.

Take the news with a grain of salt because there is still three more years of construction on the way, but this will mark the final phase of the HOV project in Tacoma.

Once the project is finished -- in 2021 -- the lanes on I-5 South will increase from four to five, which includes an HOV lane for carpools and transit. Final configuration of northbound I-5 will add an additional lane at Pacific Avenue, an extra lane between the I-705 on-ramp and the Portland Avenue exit, and one HOV lane. 

You'll also be able to take the HOV lane essentially from Gig Harbor on SR-16 all the way up to Everett on I-5.

“The final piece of the puzzle is now our focus,” said WSDOT Regional Administrator John Wynands. “This monumental effort represents an over $1.6 billion investment in the highway infrastructure to not only increase capacity with new HOV facilities, but also to rebuild I-5 through Tacoma.”

What to expect during construction

During the approximate three-year construction project, travelers can expect:

  • Narrowed and shifted lanes and ramps on I-5.
  • A new L Street overpass above I-5 following demolition.
  • Nighttime lane and ramp closures.
  • Occasional weekend ramp closures and extended closures of the following ramps:
    • Southbound I-5 exit to Bay Street
    • Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5
    • Northbound I-5 exit to Portland Avenue
    • SR 167 on-ramp to southbound I-5.
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