TACOMA, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Transportation is warning drivers that traffic congestion on parts of northbound I-5 in Tacoma could stretch for miles this weekend as construction crews install new concrete.

WSDOT spokesperson Cara Mitchell said crews will reduce traffic to one lane on northbound I-5 in the area of the SR 16 interchange.

The closures will start at the 48th Street overpass and end near the 38th Street pedestrian overpass, where the interstate will reopen to two lanes.

“Drivers should prepare to see some backups on northbound I-5, potentially as far back as 56th Street,” said Mitchell.

The work will take place from 10 p.m. Friday Jan. 31 to 5 a.m. Monday Feb. 3 and again from 10 p.m. Friday Feb. 7 to 5 a.m. Feb. 10.

According to WSDOT, construction was expected to continue despite rainy weather. Mitchell said only snow or other severe inclement weather would interfere with the work.

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Mitchell said crews would spend the first phase of the project demolishing some temporary asphalt along the stretch, which will be replaced with concrete panels. The concrete will need roughly six hours to dry. 

Mitchell said there may be a period of time when drivers will not see construction crews working because the concrete will be drying.

To ease congestion, Mitchell said WSDOT will open the HOV lane connection between northbound I-5 and eastbound SR 16 to all vehicles, not just vehicles carrying two or more people. But she warned that drivers in that lane would be unable to exit to Union Avenue or Sprague Avenue.

Mitchell said drivers should avoid the area if they can, but if they must drive, the best time would be early in the morning or late at night when traffic volume decreases.

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Drivers said the delays are nothing new on I-5 in Tacoma, which is known for a series of seemingly endless construction projects over the last 20 years.

“It’s like the worst traffic everywhere,” said Shadd Foster, who drives the interstate to commute to Sumner during the week.

Another driver, Ron Ryan said he simply planned to stay away from I-5 over the weekend. “Try to avoid it or take different routes,” he said. “That’s all you can do.”