3 more years of I-5 construction in Tacoma before decade-old HOV project is finished

Pierce County’s decade-old HOV project is about to enter its home stretch. But don’t expect to use those diamond lanes until fall of 2021.

In February, a contractor for the state Department of Transportation will begin widening Interstate 5 between the Tacoma Dome and the Puyallup River to make room for the new HOV lanes.

In order to accomplish that a new bridge to carry the southbound lanes of I-5 will be built. Then, the old bridges will be demolished.

The final $324 million segment between the Dome and the Port of Tacoma Road is part of the $1.6 billion overall project which is adding the HOV lanes in Pierce County and essentially rebuilding stretches of I-5, WSDOT said.

Once this final segment is completed, HOV lanes will open in both directions of I-5 through Tacoma. Carpools and buses will be able to travel on HOV lanes from Gig Harbor to Everett, WSDOT said.

Narrowed lanes — from 12 feet to 11 feet — on other segments of the ongoing road construction project through Tacoma have led to numerous crashes involving semi-trucks. The most recent was on Wednesday.

During the project, I-5 drivers can expect:

Narrowed and shifted lanes and ramps.

Demolition of the L Street overpass and construction of a new overpass.

Nighttime lane and ramp closures.

Occasional weekend and longer ramp closures.

The HOV lane construction project in Pierce County began in 2009.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.