Traffic Q&A: No decision yet as to changing speed limit on SR 16

Question: I’m writing to you about speed limits on state Route 16 eastbound just beyond Cheney Stadium.

Shortly after you leave the carpool lane, at Union Avenue, the speed limit goes down to 40 miles per hour.

If you go 40 miles per hour in that area, you will get run over! Nobody seems to go below 55 until you get to the curve to go to Interstate 5 northbound.

Does the state Department of Transportation have any plans to revisit that speed limit? — Mac Williams, Lakewood

Answer: They’re still thinking about it.

The speed limit in that area was originally reduced during construction of the eastbound Nalley Valley project because of narrowed lanes, changing roadway alignments and construction activity close to traffic.

“Now that the project is complete, our traffic engineers are assessing whether it’s time to raise the speed limit,” said WSDOT spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker.

“A contributing factor in their decision will be the recent startup of another big construction project adjacent to eastbound SR 16 — the I-5, M Street to Portland Avenue HOV project.

“Motorists who drive from eastbound state Route 16 to northbound I-5 have no doubt noticed closed lanes and more congestion on the northbound I-5 collector-distributor that joins with eastbound 16,” Bingham Baker said.

“Although we do everything we can to minimize traffic impacts while we build and maintain highways, drivers traveling on I-5 through Tacoma will see a tremendous amount of construction activity, with narrowed and changing lane alignments, over the next four years,” she said.

“I-5 work may seem unrelated to SR 16 speed limits, but the roads are all connected and we consider effects on the overall system when making changes to one area.”