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Friday, April 20, 2012
Claudia Bingham Baker, WSDOT Communications, 360-709-8173 (Olympia)
TACOMA – Drivers heading north on Interstate 5 will soon experience a change in their route – and more traffic congestion – into downtown Tacoma.
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, April 28, and continuing into July, drivers will use Exit 132 instead of Exit 133 for Tacoma City Center.
Once on Exit 132, drivers headed to downtown will stay in the right lane, bypass the State Route 16 on-ramp and 38th Street and merge onto the northbound collector/distributor lane to Interstate 705 and downtown Tacoma.
“It’s a straightforward detour,” said Kevin Dayton, regional administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “This detour allows us to replace that temporary exit with a long-term one, which will gel with work being completed on our Eastbound Nalley Valley project.”
WSDOT created a brief video to show drivers exactly how Exit 132 leads to the city center. It’s important to note:
1. Traffic in the video is very light. Once WSDOT closes the city center exit, however, motorists will experience heavy congestion and delays at that location. Particularly during peak commute hours, drivers may experience two-mile backups approaching the detour. Drivers familiar with other local routes are encouraged to use those routes rather than the signed detour.
2. In anticipation of heavy traffic volumes, WSDOT will restripe the right lane of Exit 132 north of the pedestrian bridge to add a second lane for city center traffic. The restriping work will occur during the week of April 23. That second lane, although helpful, will not eliminate the traffic congestion. WSDOT will monitor traffic closely throughout the closure.
During the closure, crews will demolish the existing exit and build a new exit that matches the configuration of the future eastbound SR 16 viaduct. The existing exit, which was built for WSDOT’s I-5: 48th to Pacific project in 2008, includes a temporary structure that was scheduled to be demolished at this point in the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program.
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