South Sound News

I-5 reopens in Tacoma after semi crash near SR 16; crash is sixth in four months

TACOMA, Wash. — All lanes of I-5 were blocked both directions in Tacoma near Highway 16 after a semi crashed and hit the concrete barrier. The freeway has since reopened.

The semi was heading southbound when it lost control at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. The crash sent the barriers into the northbound lanes.

Both directions of traffic were diverted to the collector-distributor lanes.

A second crash happened in the northbound lanes as a result of the barrier damage from the semi crash.

There were minor injuries in both crashes.

There were 12 damaged barriers that had to be repaired or replaced. The Washington State Patrol said there was also a large fuel spill that had to be cleaned up.

There was a semi-crash into the barriers in the same area last week, and Wednesday's crash is the  sixth time a semi has crashed into a barrier there since October.

KIRO 7 spoke with the Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Transportation about the crashes.

"Especiallly with the collisions that we've dealt with, every single one has occurred on a wet roadway. We need drivers to make sure they're driving for the roadway conditions at hand. We need to make sure drivers are focusing on the one thing and that's just commuting through the area," said Trooper Johnna Batiste.

WSDOT said it knows the area is a problem, contractors review issues and concerns on a weekly basis, and that a lot has been done already.

Striping was refreshed, more reflective markers were put down, and highway electronic signs were posted to alert drivers.

"Is it specific to this workzone? We don't think so, but that doesn't mean we're not looking at this every single week with the contractor making sure the signs are all in place. Do we need to change the messaging? Is the striping OK? We're looking at everything," said Cara Mitchell with WSDOT Olympic Region Communications.

Trooper Batiste says WSP's investigators found speed or inattention have been factors in all the crashes including Wednesday morning's.

"At this point, the (semi) driver has been cited for negligent driving," said Batiste.

"We have continued to review the work zone and all the traffic control devices with the contractor and they are meeting state and federal standards," said Mitchell.

Drivers should be ready for another shift in the construction area. WSDOT says that will probably come in April, depending on the weather, as they work to build a new alignment for southbound I-5.

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