Final project to complete HOV system begins in February

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After years of construction, work on the final HOV segment in Tacoma begins next month.

In February, Guy F. Atkinson Construction will begin work to design and build a wider Interstate 5 between the Tacoma Dome and the Puyallup River to make room for new HOV lanes. To do this, a new bridge will be built to carry the southbound lanes of the interstate and the old bridges will be demolished.

“The final piece of the puzzle is now our focus,” said WSDOT Regional Administrator John Wynands. “This monumental effort represents an over $1.6 billion investment in the highway infrastructure to not only increase capacity with new HOV facilities, but also to rebuild I-5 through Tacoma.”

Once the project is complete, the number of southbound lanes through the project limits on I-5 will increase from four to five, which includes an HOV lane for carpools and transit. Final configuration of northbound I-5 will add an additional lane at Pacific Avenue, an extra lane between the I-705 on-ramp and the Portland Avenue exit, and one HOV lane.

The completion of this project will signal the official opening of HOV lanes in both directions of I-5 through Tacoma. Carpools and buses will be able to use the HOV lanes from Gig Harbor on State Route 16 to I-5 north into Everett.

What to expect during construction

During the approximate three-year construction project, travelers can expect:

  • Narrowed and shifted lanes and ramps on I-5.
  • A new L Street overpass above I-5 following demolition.
  • Nighttime lane and ramp closures.
  • Occasional weekend ramp closures and extended closures of the following ramps:
    • Southbound I-5 exit to Bay Street
    • Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5
    • Northbound I-5 exit to Portland Avenue
    • SR 167 on-ramp to southbound I-5.

The $324 million dollar I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road Southbound HOV project is expected to be complete in fall of 2021. The total cost reflects property acquisition, engineering, and construction.

Updated HOV construction information is available on Tacomatraffic.com. Before heading out the door, travelers can find the latest road conditions on the WSDOT app and by following the WSDOT regional Twitter feed.

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