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DOT: Years-long Tacoma freeway construction project can see the finish line

This is a design visualization of the southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge provided by the design-build contractor, Guy F. Atkinson Construction.

TACOMA, Wash. -- School age kids in Tacoma have never known a time when I-5 wasn't under construction, but the years-long (nearly decades-long!) project is finally -- FINALLY -- nearing completion.

The massive undertaking started in 2000 and is actually a series of 17 construction projects, WSDOT officials said, with each project needing to be finished before the next one could begin.

They're down to the "Final Four" now, and two of those are "weeks away" from completion.

"In the first two weeks of October, Max J. Kuney Construction, the contractor who is building the East McKinley Way overpass, has put both directions of I-5 into its final configuration within the project limits," writes Cara Mitchell with the WSDOT. "The ramp from eastbound SR 16 to northbound I-5 now has two lanes for travelers to use instead of one. Not only did this project widen I-5 to make room for HOV lanes, it replaced all the original concrete with a new roadway surface, rebuilt the Pacific Avenue overpass and built a new bridge over I-705."

Also nearing completion is a three-year I-5 HOV project that widened I-5 and created a new Puyallup River Bridge and ramp to SR-167, Mitchell said. A Southbound HOV project remains though and will begin in February 2019 which will in part create a new bridge across the Puyallup River on I-5 south.

Construction also continues on revamping the I-5/SR-16 interchanges and should be finished up in the spring.

"That means a year from now, fingers crossed, there will only be one active HOV construction zone on I-5 in Tacoma," Mitchell said. And years from now, kids today will tell their kids how they used to have to always sit in construction traffic, both ways, snow or not, and how kids these days have it SO easy....

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