Drivers heading on southbound I-5 faced a different drive as they approached the Tacoma Dome Wednesday morning. The second of two traffic shifts was completed overnight.
The first one shifted lanes for northbound traffic; this change moved southbound lanes. Crews repositioned concrete barriers to separate collector-distributor lanes from those continuing southbound on I-5.
As drivers approach the Puyallup River Bridge, they will need to decide which southbound lane will take them to their destination.
"So people as they're crossing the Puyallup River Bridge you're going to think, ‘Which lane do I need to be in? Where am I going?’” said Cara Mitchell, a WSDOT spokesperson. “Drivers heading into the city center to downtown Tacoma need to make sure they get into that collector-distributor lane sooner than later otherwise they're going to miss their exit."
The three left lanes will take drivers through Tacoma, continuing southbound on I-5 toward Olympia and beyond.
The two right lanes provide access to:
Tacoma’s City Center
South 38th Street exit to the Tacoma Mall
The changes will stay in place throughout 2017 while they replace concrete and continue work to bring HOV lanes to this part of I-5. WSDOT says this project should eventually bring relief to some of the traffic problems that plague this stretch of the freeway.
One southbound lane of I-5 will close from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. while crews rebuild the center median of the highway near the Tacoma Dome. WSDOT said this could cause backups for drivers leaving King County.
When the center median work is complete, WSDOT will move three of the left lanes of southbound I-5 to the old northbound lanes to install the barrier during overnight hours. They plan to open the temporary southbound reconfiguration by July 14.
Once the southbound lane configuration starts, WSDOT hopes people will be mindful of when and where they need to get off.
The good news coming from all of this: WSDOT said that the ramp from Highway 16 to northbound I-5 will again be two lanes instead of one.