Q: Does anyone know how much longer the Interstate 5 north on-ramp by Brown & Haley is going to be closed? – Matt L., Tacoma
A: A long, long time, Matt.
Here’s Claudia Bingham Baker, queen of communications for the Olympic Region of the state Department of Transportation:
“The A Street on-ramp to I-705 (which I assume is the ramp you’re referencing) will be closed through the duration of the M Street to Portland Avenue project, which means through spring 2018.”
Yes, that is the ramp we were referencing. (It’s briefly part of 705 before joining I-5.)
And the project she’s referencing is the $127 million effort to replace aging pavement on I-5 between M Street and Portland Avenue and add capacity for future HOV lanes. That work’s been going on for a little more than two years with a completion date of … spring 2018.
So that ramp’s going to be off limits for more than a year for people looking for a quick exit from the Dome District and for folks like us at Traffic Q&A headquarters who sometimes use it to sneak onto northbound I-5 when the freeway is gummed up between state Route 16 and the Dome.
Why so long?
“It’s a safety issue. The ramp puts merging traffic too close to a construction zone that has narrowed and restricted lanes. To ensure the safety of motorists, the decision was made to keep that ramp closed and detour traffic to the state Route 509 on-ramp to I-705 instead.”
Bingham was not moved by our protests over the detour being inconvenient.
“Safety trumps convenience,” she retorted by email, adding one of those smiley face emoti-whatevers to her response.
We wanted to send a frowny face back, but punctuation has never been our strong suit.
Route 512 ramp signals
Fellow scribe Sue Kidd has been after me recently to update a column from February detailing DOT’s plans to install ramp meters at the Steele Street South-Route 512 interchange.
The careful reader, of which Kidd is one, will recall that DOT reported the new signal was targeted for June activation.
“It’s now July,” Kidd told us recently. “They’re not on.”
We inquired of Bingham Baker, who confirmed Kidd’s observations.
Said she: “They are installed but not yet running. We are collecting data so we can do before/after traffic studies. Don’t have a specific date yet for the turn-on.”
Which is likely to turn Kidd decidedly off.