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

project status: design
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Artists rendering of final NB/SB I-5 bridges over Puyallup River
This photo is a computer-enhanced image of what I-5 will look like after the new southbound and northbound bridges are completed. View larger image.


March 2017

  • WSDOT is considering ways to incorporate practical design elements into the project while still maintaining the goal of providing a southbound I-5 HOV lane through the project limits.
  • WSDOT will deliver this project utilizing the Design-Build method.
  • In April 2010, the Washington State Department of Transportation issued a Determination of Non-Significance for the three projects on I-5:    
  1. I-5: M Street to Portland Avenue – HOV
  2. I-5: Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road – Northbound HOV
  3. I-5: Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road – Southbound HOV

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 southbound 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.

The southbound bridge will be built after an adjacent northbound bridge is complete. 

The End Result
In addition to a new southbound bridge and HOV lane over the Puyallup River, this project will make numerous improvements to southbound I-5.  Those improvements include:

  • Realigning and rebuilding a new southbound I-5 exit to East 27th Street.
  • Rebuilding East 27th Street from the Puyallup River Bridge exit to the southbound I-5 on-ramp.
  • Removing the structures and rebuilding the southbound on and off ramps crossing the T Street utilities.
  • Demolishing the existing bridges over the Puyallup River.
  • Upgrading signing, illumination, stormwater collection facilities, and water quality treatment facilities.

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


  • Widens shoulders.
  • Improves ramp alignments and curves.
  • Improves lighting.

Seismic Upgrades

  • The new southbound bridge will be built to current seismic standards.

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 preliminary design for this project is complete in conjunction with the I-5 - Portland to Port of Tacoma Road - Northbound HOV project.
  • WSDOT will advertise a Request for Proposals for the final design and construction of the project in late 2017.
  • Construction will begin once the Northbond HOV project is complete. Construction of the Southbound HOV project will take three years to complete once it starts.

Financial Information

Financial Data for PIN 300509S
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $19,531
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $285,818
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $0
CWA $0
Total $305,349

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

How can I get more information?
Claudia Bingham Baker  
Olympic Region Communications Manager

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