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

Project news

  • WSDOT has executed a contract with Atkinson Construction / Jacobs Engineering to complete the final design and construct the project. Construction is expected to begin February 2019. The construction schedule will complete work on I-5 and traffic will be in its final configuration with HOV lanes open by the end of 2021.
  • WSDOT incorporated practical design elements into the project while still maintaining the goal of providing a southbound I-5 HOV lane through the project limits.
  • WSDOT finalized the Conceptual Plans for the new bridge and southbound I-5 alignment. 
  • WSDOT will deliver this project utilizing the Design-Build method.
  • Southbound HOV project map (pdf 4.6 Mb)

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:

  • Modifying the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5.
  • Demolishing the existing I-5 bridges over the Puyallup River.
  • Demolishing and rebuilding the L Street overpass that crosses I-5.
  • Replacing existing concrete pavement from McKinley Avenue to Portland Avenue
  • Upgrading signing, illumination, stormwater collection facilities, and water quality treatment facilities.
  • Opening HOV lanes in both directions on I-5 from SR 16 to Fife.

Needs & 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 signs 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.


  • In April 2010, the Washington State Department of Transportation issued a Determination of Non-Significance for this and two other HOV projects on I-5. 
  • The preliminary design for this project is complete in conjunction with the I-5 - Portland to Port of Tacoma Road - Northbound HOV project.
  • WSDOT advertised a Request for Proposals for the final design and construction of the project in early 2018.
  • WSDOT has executed a contract with Atkinson Construction/Jacobs Engineering. Construction is expected to begin February 2019.
  • 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 Data for PIN 300509S
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $18,918
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $278,133
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $0
CWA $0
Total $297,051

Please note: The engineer's estimate for construction falls in the range from $150 to $175M. Remaining costs cover preliminary engineering, agreements, right-of-way, and construction oversight.


Gaius Sanoy 
Construction Project Engineer
(253) 365-6700

Cara Mitchell
WSDOT Olympic Region Communications
(360) 357-2703