Traffic

Expect very heavy traffic through Tacoma this weekend

Heavy traffic on southbound Interstate 5 entering Tacoma as seen from a driver’s point of view on Saturday.
Heavy traffic on southbound Interstate 5 entering Tacoma as seen from a driver’s point of view on Saturday. phaley@thenewstribune.com

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Two major construction projects combined with the air show at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will mean slow going on the freeways through Tacoma this weekend.

That’s right, even slower than usual.

Crews working on that HOV expansion and resurfacing project for the state Department of Transportation will restrict southbound Interstate 5 to two lanes between Portland Avenue East and South M Street from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Also this weekend, workers will reduce traffic to two lanes in each direction on state Route 16 across the Narrows and divert westbound traffic onto the eastbound bridge to complete a repaving project there.

That work will begin about 6 p.m. Friday and last until 5 a.m. Monday with similar restrictions scheduled for Sept. 9-12.

DOT officials are predicting near gridlock if drivers don’t travel early or late or take alternate routes.

All this while tens of thousands are expected to descend on JBLM for the return of the Air Show and Warrior Expo both Saturday and Sunday.

DOT spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker told The News Tribune the timing is unfortunate but couldn’t be helped.

“Unfortunately, we are simply running out of summer weekend options to get this major construction done,” Bingham Baker said. “We believe that midmorning on Saturday and Sunday around 10 a.m. is when we are most likely to see backups related to the show.

“Then in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday, we expect to see people leaving the base around 4 p.m. after the Thunderbirds flights. That’s when we have the biggest potential for westbound SR 16 backups related to the air show.”

If it helps, Pierce Transit is running buses to the air show from Lakewood Towne Center, the Lakewood Sounder station and the Tacoma Dome Station.

There’s a fee, but it might beat driving.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

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