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State Route 16 Eastbound Nalley Valley project one step closer to completion

State Route 16 Eastbound Nalley Valley project is one step closer to completion.

With the public’s cooperation, WSDOT’s Interstate 5/State Route 16 Eastbound Nalley Valley project in Tacoma passed a major milestone with only minor delays to traffic over the first weekend of 2014.

To keep the project moving forward, construction crews had to move eastbound SR 16 traffic from a temporary bridge which drivers had been using, to the new permanent bridge. Doing so required significant daytime weekend lane and ramp closures.

WSDOT traffic engineers needed a notable reduction in traffic to avoid significant backups while the weekend closure took place. Fortunately, motorists heeded the warnings. WSDOT calculated that an average of 23 percent of motorists altered their travel plans over that weekend, resulting in only minimal traffic backups.

“We want to thank the public for altering their travel plans to help reduce congestion in the area,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Neal Uhlmeyer. “They played a big part in our ability to open the highway on the new eastbound viaduct sooner than we’d scheduled.”

The $115 million I-5/SR16 Eastbound Nalley Valley project is the second of three projects that rebuild the I-5/SR 16 interchange. The first project, completed in 2011, built a new westbound SR 16 viaduct and new ramps from northbound and southbound I-5 to westbound SR 16. Remaining work on this second project includes completing two new ramps from South Sprague Avenue to Interstate 5. The ramps, which connect drivers to both directions of I-5, are expected to open to traffic this July.

Now that eastbound SR 16 traffic has moved onto the new viaduct, crews are demolishing most of the temporary eastbound viaduct to make room for remaining construction work.

The western portion of the temporary eastbound viaduct was built as a permanent structure and doubled as a temporary detour.

The permanent portion will jump-start the final project in the interchange, which will construct an HOV viaduct and direct-connect HOV ramps between I-5 HOV lanes and SR 16 HOV lanes. That project is scheduled to be constructed between 2017 and 2020.

Reconstruction of the Nalley Valley interchange is part of a series of projects to reduce congestion, improve safety and add HOV lanes in Pierce County.