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I-5 - Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road - Northbound HOV

Project Phase - Construction
Project Map
Project vicinity in Tacoma. View entire map.

Current bridge
I-5 crossing the Puyallup River now. View larger image.

Future northbound bridge
This photo is a computer-enhanced image of what I-5 will look like after the new northbound bridge is complete. Note that both northbound and southbound I-5 traffic will temporarily be shifted onto the new northbound bridge while crews demolish and rebuild the southbound bridge. HOV lanes will only open after both the new northbound and southbound bridges are complete. View larger image.


April 2015



Why is WSDOT building new I-5 bridges over the Puyallup River along with new HOV lanes?
This project is part of the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program, a series of highway projects to provide operational improvements and high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes on Interstate 5 (I-5), State Route 16 (SR 16), and State Route 167 (SR 167). Through Tacoma, heavy I-5 traffic creates frequent congestion. HOV lanes will help ensure that transit, vanpools and carpools move efficiently through the corridor, especially when traffic is congested in the adjacent 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 most notable work to occur in this project is building a new northbound Puyallup River Bridge that will be straighter and wider than the existing bridge. Both of these features are improvements that will help traffic move smoothly through the area.     

After the northbound bridge is built, crews will build a new southbound bridge adjacent to the northbound bridge. When that work is complete, the bridges will accommodate a northbound and southbound HOV lane.

The first stage of work was packaged into a separate contract called I-5 -Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road Northbound HOV Stage 1. Construction on Stage 1 is complete.

The End Result
This project widens I-5 from Portland Avenue to the Port of Tacoma Road to provide room for one HOV lane in each direction and four general-purpose lanes in each direction. As part of this project, WSDOT will also rebuild the I-5 Puyallup River bridges, reconstruct the I-5/SR 167 interchange, improve the Portland Avenue interchange and repave all the lanes on I-5 within the project limits.

Project Benefits
This project will provide a number of benefits to motorists. 


  • Widens shoulders.
  • Improves ramp alignments and curves.
  • Improves lighting.
  • Adds new concrete barrier to protect drivers.

Seismic Upgrades

  • New bridges and walls will be built to current seismic standards. 
  • The Portland Street and Bay Street bridges will be retrofitted to meet current seismic standards for existing structures.

Traffic and Operations

  • Additional capacity will improve traffic flow.
  • Reduces conflicting traffic movements or weaving areas.
  • Adds on-ramp metering to maintain traffic flow.

Environmental Improvements

  • Improves stormwater collection and treatment.

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Improvements

  • Adds traffic cameras.
  • Improves electronic signage for traveler notification.
  • Adds highway advisory radio capacity.
  • Installs traffic data collectors. (WSDOT uses data from the collectors to provide traffic information to the public and to monitor traffic conditions.)

Information gathered from ITS devices helps WSDOT respond more quickly to highway incidents, which in turn helps reduce traffic delays and blockages caused by incidents.

What is the project timeline?
The Stage 1 portion of this project is complete.

The remainder of the Northbound HOV project will take three years to complete once construction begins.

  • The project was awarded to Hamilton Construction Company Nov. 2014.
  • Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Feb. 2015.

Financial Information

Financial Data for PIN 300509N
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $294,903
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $1,221
Total $296,124

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

How can I get more information?

For more information, please contact:

Claudia Bingham Baker
Communications Manager
WSDOT Olympic Region

Neal Uhlmeyer, WSDOT Project Engineer
Phone: 360-412-3420

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