TACOMA, Wash. - Chances are, if you’ve had to travel through Tacoma at any point for the last 17 years, you’ve gotten stuck or at least noticed the construction between the Puyallup River Bridge and State Route 16.
While on the surface it may look like just one big project, it’s actually been a combination of 17 projects focused on HOV improvements, with an overall cost of $1.6 billion
The good news? There’s finally relief in sight—we’re down to the final four projects, and when they wrap, up, WSDOT says the improvements will be significant.
"This section of HOV lane construction will basically interconnect HOV lanes on State Route 16 to I-5, and so folks over in Gig Harbor will be able to jump on to the HOV lanes and be able to drive all the way up to Everett without having to merge in and out of traffic," said WSDOT spokesperson Cara Mitchell.
Southbound commuters stacked up through Fife are about to see relief thanks to completion of a new and improved design on the Puyallup River Bridge. The collector distributor lanes that have been in place for the last year are also going to disappear.
But, before you can reap the benefits of all this work, take note of the changes coming during this final push of construction mid March.
"Drivers should be prepared for shifted lanes," Mitchell said. "Pay attention on the morning commutes especially, because that’s when we open up those new phases of construction."
The bottom line is that as we near the home stretch at the end of the year,WSDOT has high hopes - albeit with some reservations
"It is a need and it is a demand," Mitchell said. "We are at capacity with our freeways through here and we need to be thinking about mass transit and carpooling and reducing the amount of cars that we have on the freeway. HOV lanes give us that option."
Of course, as this project winds down, drivers can also expect more construction to start ramping up further south through the Lakewood and JBLM area a little later this year.