Question: Why is the exit off southbound Interstate 5 to Pacific Avenue and state Route 7 closed, and how long is it going to stay that way? Its a major pain in the you-know-what.
I was under the impression it was supposed to open back up weeks ago. Terry, Tacoma
Answer: The Washington State Department of Transportation closed that exit Aug. 12 so it could dig up and remove thousands of cubic yards of contaminated soil that was buried and encased in concrete vaults during the original construction of Interstate 705.
The excavation project is running behind schedule because of heavy rains in September.
Originally, the exit was supposed to reopen Oct. 11. Now, WSDOT is saying an end of the month opening is more likely.
According to WSDOT spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker, the contaminated soil about 1,100 dump trucks worth was isolated in concrete vaults in the 1980s rather than hauled to a toxic waste site.
That seemed like a creative and economically sensible solution at the time, Bingham Baker said.
Since then, WSDOT decided it needed the storage site for a permanent stormwater detention pond.
The pond will be used to manage water runoff generated by new HOV lanes that will be built along I-5 between 2014 and 2017, Bingham Baker said.
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693
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