Drivers brace for lengthy construction project on I-5 in Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. – A new construction project beginning Friday by the Washington State Department of Transportation will end with new HOV access for both Interstate 5 and State Route 16.

The project also means a busy exit into downtown Tacoma has to close. The agency said the freeway will see significant congestion that will last for months.

Transportation officials admitted many drivers likely have construction fatigue with all the projects happening around the Puget Sound region. The latest project in Tacoma will take months to complete and some drivers may have to find other routes into downtown.

The project will force the closure of busy Exit 133, a route many take into downtown. WSDOT said the official detour will be Exit 132.

“Might as well just stay home,” said commuter Catrina Celestine.

“The traffic is horrible,” said Arron Mitchell. “Especially on the weekends, man you can’t even go anywhere on the weekends.”

Both main lines of I-5 will shift and stay open but they will be narrower and drivers should see more cones and barricades popping up. WSDOT is telling drivers to plan ahead and find alternate routes before Monday’s morning commute.

“We know drivers are going to take about two to three weeks to get used to the detour route and to remember,” said WSDOT’s Cara Mitchell.

When the project is complete, I-5 will have brand new northbound lanes, a new Exit 133 into downtown Tacoma and HOV access to and from SR 16 in both directions.

Lane closures could begin Friday around 11 p.m. Transportation officials expect the project to be complete by the Christmas holiday shopping season.