Traffic

WSDOT: Tacoma traffic bad, but it could be worse

Drivers encountered heavy traffic on southbound Interstate 5 entering Tacoma on Saturday. The roadwork will continue on Sunday..
Drivers encountered heavy traffic on southbound Interstate 5 entering Tacoma on Saturday. The roadwork will continue on Sunday.. phaley@thenewstribune.com

It could be worse.

That might be little consolation to those stuck in slow Tacoma-area traffic on Saturday, but the state Department of Transportation officials said many drivers took steps to avoid congestion, taking some pressure off of main roads.

“This would have been a lot bigger if number of folks had not gone early or changed their travel plans,” said WSDOT spokesman Doug Adamson. “It’s a credit to the drivers.”

Two major construction projects and the air show at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is creating slow traffic, just as DOT officials warned.

On southbound I-5, traffic is restricted to two lanes between Portland Avenue East and South M Street from until 5 a.m. Monday while crews work on HOV expansion and resurfacing. Adamson expects volume to peak Saturday evening. “And we expect a repeat for Sunday,” he said.

On state Route 16, traffic is reduced to two lanes as traffic in both directions are sharing the eastbound Narrows Bridge. The work continues until 5 a.m. Monday and resumes Sept. 9-12.

A traffic accident on the bridge Saturday morning created backups for eastbound travelers that stretched nearly three miles to Gig Harbor’s Olympic Drive.

Traffic at the JBLM Air Show and Warrior Expo created backups on Interstate 5 and state Route 512. “That’s been one of the biggest ones,” Adamson said.

“We’ve seen people on north and southbound I-5 along the shoulders trying to get in to Bridgeport,” Adamson said. “We have seen people on westbound 512 trying to get into JBLM as well.”

DOT officials are encouraging people to take the bus service to JBLM. Pierce Transit is running buses to the air show from Lakewood Towne Center, the Lakewood Sounder station and the Tacoma Dome Station.

At 4 p.m., as the crowds start to leave JBLM, Adamson he expects to “perhaps be like a Seahawks game getting out.”

Sunday: More of the same.

Adamson says go early or go late or be prepared to take longer than normal to reach your destination.

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