Traffic

Repaving will mean traffic headaches on Tacoma Narrows bridges

Drivers should expect delays Aug. 26-29 and Sept. 9-12 as workers reduce traffic to two lanes in each direction and divert westbound traffic from the old bridge onto the new one, the department reported.
Drivers should expect delays Aug. 26-29 and Sept. 9-12 as workers reduce traffic to two lanes in each direction and divert westbound traffic from the old bridge onto the new one, the department reported. Staff file, 2015

The Washington Department of Transportation is warning of potential traffic jams on state Route 16 in the coming weeks as crews repave both Tacoma Narrows bridges.

Drivers should expect delays Aug. 26-29 and Sept. 9-12 as workers reduce traffic to two lanes in each direction and divert westbound traffic from the old bridge onto the new one, the department reported.

In addition, lanes will be restricted overnight on the eastbound span from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1. The westbound bridge should be open then.

All work is weather-dependent.

“WSDOT anticipates lengthy traffic delays during the weekend closures,” the department reported on its website. “Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead, add extra time to their travel and delay discretionary trips.”

It will be the first time the new, eastbound bridge has been repaved since it opened in 2007. The westbound bridge, built in 1950, was repaved in 2007.

Traffic and weather are wearing down both road surfaces.

“An increasing number of cars and trucks on the highway have led to the deterioration of the roadway,” the department reported. “A fierce marine environment combined with freeze-and-thaw cycles also causes the road surface to break down.”

More than 41,000 vehicles per day cross the westbound span while nearly 40,000 cross the eastbound bridge, according to DOT records.

Here’s a rundown of the weekend work:

▪ On both Fridays, at about 6 p.m. crews will begin reducing eastbound traffic to two lanes. Westbound Route 16 will be diverted off the old bridge onto the new one beginning two hours later.

▪ Also each Friday, the on-ramp from 24th Street to eastbound Route 16 will close about 7 p.m. as will the Jackson Street on-ramp to westbound Route 16.

▪ All lanes and ramps should be reopened by the following Monday at 5 a.m.

Speed limits over the bridge will be reduced from the normal 60 mph to 35 mph during the construction.

The work is expected to cost about $1.5 million, said Claudia Bingham Baker, a DOT spokeswoman. About $800,000 of that money will come from the regular DOT maintenance budget, with the remaining $700,000 coming from bridge toll funds.

“Repaving both bridges is quite an undertaking,” DOT project engineer Gaius Sanoy said. “We appreciate drivers’ patience as we work to take care of these key routes over the Narrows.”

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

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