Tacoma Dome crawl among worst traffic bottlenecks in nation

The stretch of Interstate 5 in Tacoma between Interstate 705 and state Route 16 is among the worst traffic bottlenecks in the nation, according to a trucking research group.

Puget Sound has five of the top 21 worst traffic bottlenecks in the nation, says the American Transportation Research Institute, a Virginia-based nonprofit research organization.

Bottlenecks — traffic slowdowns caused by outdated, inadequate or temporary roadways — can bring freeway traffic to a snail’s pace when volumes get high.

Here are top local rankings with the average traffic speed during peak bottleneck times.

RankCityBottleneckAverage Speed
7Auburnstate Route 18 at state Route 16739 mph
10SeattleI-5 at Interstate 9027 mph
16TacomaI-5 at I-705 and state Route 1641 mph
18Federal Waystate Route 18 at I-540 mph
21BellevueInterstate 90 at Interstate 40531 mph

7 Auburn: state Route 18 at state Route 167, 39 mph.

10 Seattle: I-5 at Interstate 90, 27 mph.

16 Tacoma: I-5 at I-705 and state Route 16, 41 mph.

18 Federal Way: state Route 18 at I-5, 40 mph.

21 Bellevue: Interstate 90 at Interstate 405, 31 mph.

The I-5/state Route 512 interchange came in 75th on the list.

The rankings are not opinion-based. ATRI uses truck GPS data to arrive at the table. Since 2002, the institute has monitored a list of what now is 250 locations around the country.

Rankings change every year. The Tacoma bottleneck had one of the highest jumps on the list, up 16 spots this year.

The stretch of I-5 between the Puyallup River and state Route 16 has seen several construction projects for over a decade. Carpool lanes are being installed, bridges rebuilt and overpasses reconstructed.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor