Local

Temporary lane changes, ramp closures to mean more headaches for Tacoma freeway drivers

Freeway ramp closures you will want to avoid.

The April closure of the busy Sprague Avenue onramp to eastbound Highway 16, southbound Interstate 5 and eastbound 38th Street will bring detours and inevitable traffic headaches.
Up Next
The April closure of the busy Sprague Avenue onramp to eastbound Highway 16, southbound Interstate 5 and eastbound 38th Street will bring detours and inevitable traffic headaches.

The on-going project to build commuter lanes through the heart of Tacoma’s freeways kicks up a notch beginning April 6.

That’s when the state Department of Transportation will temporarily reconfigure lanes on Interstate 5 and state Route 16.

The planned closures and detours are part of the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV program, which will connect carpool lanes from Route 16 directly onto I-5.

SPRAGUE TO I-5

First up is a two-month long closure of the South Sprague Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-5, according to WSDOT. The Sprague ramp to northbound I-5 will remain open during the project.

If you’re headed to southbound I-5 from Sprague, you’ll need to take state Route 16 west to Union Avenue, exit, then get back on Route 16 eastbound. Once back on the freeway, you’ll need to move over to the two far left lanes to access southbound I-5.

In fact, all drivers on Route 16 who want to travel south onto I-5 will have to be in the far left lanes — the opposite of its current configuration.

Those far left lanes are the newly constructed HOV lanes.

WSDOT spokeswoman Cara Mitchell said there is enough distance between the Union on-ramp and I-5 for traffic to safely merge to the two left lanes.

Drivers headed to northbound I-5 will use the far right lanes of Route 16. Again, that’s the opposite of its current configuration

In February, widening will begin on southbound Interstate 5 between the Tacoma Dome and Port of Tacoma Road to make room for new HOV lanes. The final $324 million segment is part of a $1.6 billion project that is expected to finish by fall of 2021.

38TH STREET INTERCHANGE

Also on April 6, the ramp onto eastbound South 38th Street will close for one week while crews build a new, but temporary, interchange that will give drivers from Route 16 and southbound I-5 access to both east and westbound 38th Street.

When work on the interchange is complete, South 38th Street will have a traffic signal that allows eastbound and westbound access to all drivers.

During the week-long closure, southbound I-5 and eastbound Route 16 travelers will be unable to exit onto eastbound South 38th Street. Those drivers can detour to South 56th Street and then travel northbound I-5 back to South 38th Street.

The southbound I-5 exit (132A) to westbound South 38th Street will not be affected during the week-long closure. But following the opening of the temporary interchange, the westbound ramp will close for up to two months.

The temporary interchange will remain in place for up to two months.

The entire project is scheduled to be finished this summer, Mitchell said.

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune

  Comments