Traffic Q&A: Is I-5 wall pattern in Tacoma messed up?

Question: My inquiry relates to the concrete retaining wall on the south side of Interstate 5, a bit south of the Tacoma Dome.

When this wall was erected, why didn’t the workers do it right and follow the architect’s plans regarding the design that is obviously supposed to be showing? It’s apparent no care was given whatsoever as to putting the panels together as they were planned.

This retaining wall should be an embarrassment to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Visitors to our area must shake their heads and wonder, “What the ... ?”

Even if money was an issue, it wouldn’t have cost any more to do it right.

— Darrell Barstow, Puyallup

Answer: It may look wrong to you, but that’s the way the artist, Vicki Scuri, planned it.

“We built the wall according to Vicki Scuri’s design specifications,” said Claudia Bingham Baker, a spokesperson for WSDOT. “In fact, she oversaw the construction of the art concrete forms and did quality verification checks during wall construction. She also did an overall quality verification check of the artwork along the entire wall once it was completed.”

According to Scuri’s website, the imagery on the wall is meant to evoke Tacoma's waterfront and the forests cut to provide post-World War II housing.

“Rope imagery representing Tacoma's waterfront port combined with residential molding updates the corridor-wide random board patterning and captures WWII housing references,” Scuri’s website says.