Traffic Q&A: Highway 16 re-striping will follow opening of Sprague ramps

Question: Any word on the restriping of state Route 16 near Union Avenue? According to your Traffic Q&A from June 15, it was supposed to happen in the month of July.

Here’s what you said back then: “It’s still possible the realignment could happen this month, but July is looking more likely, according to the state Department of Transportation.” – Andrew, Tacoma

Answer: The restriping project is running late, but don’t give up hope. WSDOT says it’s still planning to make the lane changes, but not until the end of August.

For those who don’t recall, the restriping is intended to fix a bottleneck on eastbound state Route 16 just past Union Avenue, where the mainline narrows to two lanes from three. Vehicles entering the freeway from the Union Avenue onramp get their own dedicated lane. After restriping, they’ll have to merge into the right lane of the mainline.

WSDOT had been planning to have the restriping finished at the same time it opened the new I-5 access ramps from South Sprague Avenue, which is scheduled to happen early Sunday.

When asked about the restriping delay, WSDOT spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker said, “The contractor has a tremendous amount of work to do to get ready to open the two Sprague ramps next weekend, and the restriping of the eastbound state Route 16 lanes now looks like it will occur within a week or two after the opening of the ramps.” (Two weeks would be Aug. 31.)

Bingham Baker warned that several overnight lane closures, detours and short-term stops should be expected in the area throughout this week as the contractor prepares to open the two new Sprague ramps.

Drivers using the eastbound SR 16 exit to Sprague should be prepared for intermittent daytime stops on the ramp throughout the week, she said.

In addition, the northbound I-5 exit (133) to City Center will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Eastbound 16 will be closed completely at Union Avenue on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, and traffic will be detoured onto Union. The Union Avenue onramp to 16 also will be closed during those times.

All facilities, including the new Sprague ramps to I-5, are scheduled to be open to traffic at 8 a.m. Sunday.