Demolition of Pacific Avenue bridge this fall to kick off I-5 widening project

A key bridge over Interstate 5 will be demolished in September to create more lanes for Tacoma’s notoriously heavy freeway traffic. The bridge’s demolition just the start of a three-year project which aims to ease congestion by temporarily creating a lot of it.

The $168 million project will build high occupancy vehicle lanes along Interstate 5 from South M Street east to East Portland Avenue, about 1.5 miles. The project also widens the highway to four lanes in each direction.

To make room for the lanes, WSDOT will demolish and rebuild the Pacific Avenue bridge over I-5. Once Pacific Avenue’s bridge is rebuilt, around August 2015, WSDOT will then demolish the McKinley Way bridge. The project includes resurfacing I-5 in that area, and constructing a new northbound bridge over the I-705 interchange.

In 2006, the state demolished the Yakima Avenue overpass to widen I-5. The replacement bridge opened two years later. About the same time, WSDOT also replaced the Delin Street bridge. The Tacoma Avenue bridge across I-5 was demolished but not replaced.

The details of the latest project will be discussed at a town hall meeting hosted by City Councilman Marty Campbell on Monday at Lincoln High School. The meeting, which begins at 4:30 p.m., also will cover Pierce County’s plans to build a new administration building, and the city of Tacoma’s plan to overhaul the Tacoma Avenue South bridge across the Nalley Valley.

Chris Larson, engineering division manager for public works, said the Tacoma Avenue South bridge will be closed for about 15 months starting in October. The project is expected to cost $11.5 million, of which $11.2 million will come from state and federal grants.

Guardrails, sidewalks, structural members and the bridge’s deck will be replaced in that time, he said.