Why is there so much congestion?
Interstate 5 is a national highway of strategic importance. It moves goods and people between two borders and links major cities. It is a critical corridor for military use. Over the past several years, traffic has increased along the entire I-5 corridor, and nowhere has that increase been more noticeable than in south Pierce County through the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) vicinity.
A combination of factors have contributed to the traffic growth through the area. Large businesses have moved in. JBLM and Camp Murray have expanded, and the communities of Lakewood, DuPont and Steilacoom have continued to develop. Each change has added demand on the already-crowded I-5 corridor. Motorists now see traffic congestion on a daily basis, especially during peak commute hours. Because secured military bases are located on both sides of I-5, alternate routes involve using perimeter roads around the bases. Those routes are neither convenient nor able to manage high volumes of traffic.
What is WSDOT doing about it?
A joint I-5 corridor planning study involving WSDOT, JBLM and local jurisdictions is evaluating the best way to improve transportation through the JBLM vicinity. The task of the planning study is to define improvements that could relieve congestion on I-5 from Center Drive to Gravelly Lake Road, with a focus on the interchanges at the Steilacoom-Dupont exit (#119), 41st Division Drive/Main Gate exit (#120), Berkeley Street exit (#122) and the Thorne Lane exit (#123).
Specifically, the study addresses options to:
- relieve congestion on I-5
- improve system efficiency
- enhance mobility
- improve safety and operations
- increase transit and alternative commute opportunities
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Why are studies needed?
The planning study will result in an Interchange Justification Report (IJR), a study required by federal law used to justify revisions to highway interchanges. The IJR documents the design of the preferred alternative, the planning process, the evaluation of considered alternatives, and the support and justification for requesting an access revision. With the results from the report, project stakeholders can take action to implement the preferred solutions.
What is the timeline to complete the study?
The expedited study is scheduled to be complete by March, 2015. The completed study should include:
- a developed I-5 corridor plan from Center Drive to Gravelly Lake Road
- a completed Interchange Justification Report for revisions to the four focus-area interchanges
- a prioritized listing of interstate improvements
- environmental documentation and preliminary engineering for the highest priority improvements
What is happening in the mean time?
While the planning study is underway, some construction is already taking place in the corridor, and more construction is scheduled to start soon. The construction projects will provide short-term improvements to help relieve congestion. Specifically, crews will:
- Install ramp meters
- Widen ramp lanes
- Add a ramp lane and auxiliary lane
- Install data collection stations
- Install Intelligent Transportation System improvements
View a map of these preliminary project features.