WSDOT: Expect traffic backups near SR 16 and I-5 in Tacoma through spring 2017

TACOMA -- Drivers are bracing for backups and delays on eastbound State Route 16 through Tacoma.

The Washington State Department of Transportation says starting Wednesday the SR 16 on-ramp to northbound I-5 will be reduced to one lane until spring 2017. The change will give construction crews room to work on a project extending HOV lanes into Tacoma, according to WSDOT.

Crews are building new road approaches to the newly constructed bridge over Interstate 705/State Route 7. WSDOT says that new bridge will eventually carry all northbound I-5 traffic. The existing northbound I-5 lanes will be converted into HOV lanes.

“Because we’ve used this traffic configuration before, we already know it will cause delays,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Brenden Clarke. “Space is very tight through the area, which limits our options. We’ll work as quickly as we can to get this phase of construction behind us.”

Drivers heading north of Tacoma can avoid some traffic by getting onto State Route 7, to South 38th Street (east), and looping back onto the SR 7 on-ramp to northbound I-5.