PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — There is an end in sight to the relentless roadwork in the South Sound. But first, drivers will deal with six more weeks of headaches on I-5 through Tacoma. And there's a new warning from the state Department of Transportation for people heading south.
This weekend kicks off the last six weeks of work on the I-5 interchange at State Route 16 in Tacoma.
WSDOT says crews need good weather to make that deadline.
This stretch of I-5 through Tacoma has tested the patience of drivers for years. So news that it could soon be over is welcome.
"That'd be great," said Ed Carroll, a longtime Tacoma driver, "because I've been dealing with this since it started because I live up on the hill. And I go down to the Port of Tacoma every day for work."
Ed Carroll says the pain isn't limited to I-5. Drivers seeking refuge from this traffic mess have made some nearby streets nearly impassable.
"A lot of the people up in Federal Way have actually tried to avoid some of I-5," Carroll said. "So they swapped over to coming down the hill on the backside of Federal Way onto 509. And it just turns 509 at 5 o'clock into a parking lot."
A WSDOT spokesman says the work is in its final phase.
"Called the connector's job," said Doug Adamson, "which will connect up the HOV lane between SR 16 and Interstate 5."
The work will involve installing huge HOV signs, some repaving and striping.
But as work nears an end here, crews will head next weekend about 20 miles south to the Marvin Road overpass in Lacey.
"The overpass will be completely closed for an entire weekend," he said, "because of the next phase of the project to convert the overpass into a diverging diamond interchange."
Drivers who have endured years of this say the end of it all can't come too soon.
"Well, hopefully when it's all over," said Kait Sibley, a longtime Tacoma driver. "They move all of the vehicles that they have occupying their space."
"I deal with it," Ed Carroll said. "I'm about a year away from retirement and then I don't have to deal with it no more."
That may be the only way to truly avoid this. But if you can't avoid it, Adamson says crews plan to work around the clock, so they can finish in about six weeks, as promised.
But he says don't forget about Lacey next weekend. Drivers are asked to pack their patience.
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