Why is WSDOT
concentrating on I-5 congestion between SR 510 in Lacey and SR 512 in Lakewood?
Increases in travel and growth at JBLM (Joint Base Lewis McChord) have become the focus of the chokepoint in this area.
Over the past decade, populations in Thurston and Pierce counties have grown exponentially and numerous large-scale businesses have moved into the area. These include largely staffed enterprises such as State Farm, Intel, FedEx, and Cabela’s as well as the rapid development of the Hawk’s Prairie Industrial area.
While the populations have increased, the interstate has steadily been appproaching capacity.
The End Result
For the short term, WSDOT’s working relationship with the leadership at JBLM – forged over a decade of innovate, cost-effective measures – was the key to unlocking the immediate northbound, morning traffic problem.
In 2010, the two agencies formed the Traffic Circulation Committee – an operations planning team comprised of leaders from JBLM, WSDOT, Washington State Patrol and local municipalities.
The team collectively works together to identify solutions to transportation issues in and around the installation by creating a holistic traffic and gate plan with decision points, milestones, resourcing required, risks, etc. This is all done under the strategy of Moving Washington.
Ensuring that we are Moving Washington through this busy corridor is an ongoing effort and currently crews are installing fiber optic capability from Thorne Lane to Mounts Road that will provide seven cameras and three nortbound ramp meters at Nisqually, Mounts and Marvin roads.
Developing longer-term solutions
But there's much more to do to and WSDOT hopes to address southbound I-5 congestion particularly in the p.m. commute timeframe and ultimately, add more capacity.
The cameras and ramp meters along the 11-mile stretch of Interstate 5 between Marvin Road in Lacey and Berkeley Street in Lakewood allow WSDOT to manage traffic demand. From a central traffic management center WSDOT staff use the camera images to keep apprised of state highways.
The images are used to call out emergency personnel, report traffic conditions through highway signs and radio messages, and monitor flow. They are the same images you can use to know before you go.
Ramp meters manage traffic demand. Using the camera images, WSDOT staff will be able to control the number of cars that merge onto I-5 when congestion is heavy. This will help keep mainline I-5 moving.
The new technology will also allow the WSDOT Travel Alerts page for Olympia to offer travel times for Olympia to Tacoma.
What is the project timeline?
Crews completed installing the information technology systems and the cameras and ramp meters became operational in mid-March 2012.
Background work is ongoing and planning studies are underway to look at long-term improvements to the corridor.
A 2010 study led by the City of Lakewood, WSDOT and JBLM with participants from a range of partners was funded by the Office of Economic Justice and the Department of Defense. The study laid the groundwork to move to the next phase which identifies efficiencies and develops solutions for long-term needs.
The innovative management of the Traffic Circulation Committee - JBLM, WSDOT and its partners - continue to look for opportunities to improve or reduce afternoon congestion in the corridor.
Project signage will reflect the cost of construction engineering, project bid award and sales tax.
The ramp meter/camera project is funded from the following sources:
Local (Joint Base Lewis McChord) - $645,000
State - $248,171
Total Funding Available From All Sources - $893,171
How can I get more information?
Claudia Bingham Baker
Olympic Region Communication Manager
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