Getting around a Tacoma I-5 traffic jam

Washington State Department of Transportation produced a video showing how to get around the traffic jams created by closing Tacoma's main I-5 exit.
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Washington State Department of Transportation produced a video showing how to get around the traffic jams created by closing Tacoma's main I-5 exit.
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Traffic

I-5 ramp closure will make getting to Tacoma city center tricky later this month

April 07, 2017 07:00 AM

There’s another change coming to the Interstate 5 commute through Tacoma later this month.

That’s right: One. More. Thing.

Contractor crews working on the seemingly never-ending project to resurface I-5 and add car pool lanes through Tacoma will close the northbound exit to city center.

Exit 133, which provides access to Interstate 705, state Route 7 and downtown Tacoma will be closed for seven months, said Cara Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

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The date for the closure has not been set, but the earliest it is expected to happen is April 14, Mitchell said. That date could be pushed back by bad weather, she added.

“During the closure, crews will build new northbound lanes, a new northbound I-5 bridge and a new northbound I-5 off-ramp to Tacoma’s city center,” Mitchell wrote in a news release. “They will also start building new HOV lanes for both eastbound and westbound SR 16 traffic merging to I-5.”

Northbound I-5 drivers who wish to access I-705, state Route 7 or downtown Tacoma during the closure will have to follow what state officials call a “straightforward detour.”

It entails leaving the freeway at Exit 132 — that’s the one for westbound state Route 16 and South 38th Street — following the collector-distributor lanes and then taking the exit from there for northbound I-705 and downtown Tacoma.

The Transportation Department and its contractors have put together a video showing the route. You can find it at bit.ly/2nhqPnO.

Traffic congestion is expected.

“The detour is straightforward, but we expect some backups to occur during peak commute hours,” said Gaius Sanoy, a state project engineer. “We’re asking commuters to plan ahead to take alternate routes if possible.”

In a bit of good news, crews were able to open the new ramp from northbound I-5 to northbound state Route 167, also known as River Road, last weekend.