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I-5 - M Street to Portland Avenue - HOV

Project location map See a larger project vicinity map.

This is the existing I-5 alignment through downtown Tacoma. View larger photo.

This photo is a computer-enhanced visualization of I-5 once the M Street to Portland project is complete.

Notice the extra bridge over I-705? It will accommodate northbound I-5 traffic. Current northbound lanes will be converted to an HOV facility for northbound and southbound HOV traffic. This conversion will save taxpayers about $20 million over of the cost to build a new HOV bridge. View larger photo

Project Photos


May 2016

Recent changes

  • Drivers heading to southbound I-5 from both I-705 and Pacific Avenue will continue along the South 38th Street collector/distributor. Drivers will connect to southbound I-5 south of SR 16.
  • Southbound I-5 drivers heading to either South 38th Street or westbound State Route 16 will need to merge into the right lanes of southbound I-5 before reaching the construction zone.
  • Once southbound I-5 rehabilitation work is complete after this summer, drivers will no longer be routed via the South 38th Street on-ramp.

Project information

  • This three-year project has 10 distinct stages of construction. We are currently in the fourth stage.
  • Tired of the delays at the eastbound SR 16 merge onto northbound I-5?  Try these alternate routes. They work!  
  • Curious about other traffic impacts? Click here for details.
  • Sign up for email updates to receive information about lane and ramp closures.

Pacific Avenue Overpass Information

Long-term ramp closures:

  • The ramp from A Street to I-705 and I-5 will remain closed through 2017.
  • The ramp from northbound SR 7 to southbound I-5 will remain closed through winter 2017.


Why is WSDOT building HOV lanes?
The Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program is a series of highway projects to provide operational improvements and high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes on Interstate 5, State Route 16, and State Route 167. Through Tacoma, heavy I-5 traffic creates frequent congestion in this area. HOV lanes will ensure that transit, vanpools and carpools can move efficiently through the corridor, especially when traffic is congested in the adjoining general-purpose lanes. This reliability tends to increase ridership in multi-passenger vehicles and thereby helps ease demand in the general-purpose lanes, making the overall highway system work better for everyone.

The project widens northbound and southbound I-5 so they will both have four general-purpose lanes and one additional HOV lane from M Street to near L Street. To allow for the widened roadway, WSDOT will replace the Pacific Avenue and McKinley Way bridges over I-5, and build a new northbound I-5 bridge over the I-705 interchange. Other improvements include a new stormwater collection and treatment system, and replacement of all existing northbound and southbound pavement with new reinforced concrete. The project also replaces the illumination system and enhances the existing driver information systems including traffic cameras, variable message signs, and traffic data systems.

The End Result
This part of the project demolishes and rebuilds Pacific Avenue and McKinley Way bridges spanning I-5. It builds a new northbound SR 7/I-705 bridge, and widens I-5 to accommodate northbound and southbound HOV lanes from M Street (milepost 132.84) to the vicinity of the L Street bridge (milepost 134.41).

Project Benefits

New HOV lanes will open when adjacent projects are complete. 

The project expands and improves the auxiliary lanes at the I-705 interchange to provide additional congestion relief. New concrete barrier will be constructed down the median of I-5, and on the roadside to protect drivers from fixed hazards.

Other project improvements will allow WSDOT to provide better traffic camera views, increased communication to motorists about traffic accidents and delays, and better traffic flow information to the public.

What is the project timeline?

  • Design work was completed in March, 2014.  
  • The project went on advertisement March 31, 2014; bids were opened June 4, 2014. The project was awarded to Max J. Kuney Company June 10, 2014.
  • Construction began August, 2014. The project will take about three years to complete.

Financial Information

Financial Data for PIN 300509M
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $160,755
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $95
Total $160,850

Project signage will reflect the cost of construction engineering, project bid award and sales tax.


How can I get more information?
Jon Deffenbacher
Construction Project Engineer
(253) 365-6700

Claudia Bingham Baker
Communications Manager
WSDOT Olympic Region
(360) 357-2789

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