If you plan on attending Armed Forces Day at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Saturday, be happy if you live south of the base.
Drivers should brace for 10-mile backups on southbound Interstate 5 in Pierce County, as construction work on Clover Creek Bridge in Lakewood this weekend will limit traffic at times to one lane and the highway shoulder.
Double- and triple-lane closures will tighten southbound I-5 from 48th Street in Tacoma to Gravelly Lake Drive in Lakewood from 7 p.m. today through 8 a.m. Sunday. In addition, the on-ramp from Bridgeport Way to southbound I-5 will be closed.
Engineers expect backups to be at their height Saturday and encourage drivers to avoid the area from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“There are no alternate routes around this construction that can handle the more than 70,000 vehicles this section of I-5 typically sees on weekends,” said Kevin Dayton, region administrator of the state Department of Transportation.
“And the nature and location of this work basically reduces a four-lane interstate to a one-lane backcountry road.”
Construction also is expected to cause significant backups on state Route 512 and eastbound state Route 16 connecting to I-5.
So what does this mean for the thousands of people who want to see the historical re-enactments, military vehicle displays, volksmarches and bands at the base’s 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. celebration?
Long waits or searches for alternatives.
• One option: To get to the event entrance at the DuPont Gate off I-5, drivers could cut through Steilacoom.
• Another possibility: Travel on state Route 167 to westbound state Route 512 and exit at Pacific Avenue, take the Roy Y to Lacey, then head north on I-5.
• Or you can, grit your teeth, invest in a full tank of gas and get ready to sit in traffic.
Lewis-McChord and Transportation Department officials have been in contact regarding the I-5 construction project, though they did not specifically discuss the impact on Saturday’s event, base spokesman Joe Kubistek said Thursday.
Last year’s Armed Forces Day drew a crowd of about 20,000, including people who live on base, and organizers expect a comparable number of participants this year, Kubistek added.
“We understand the importance of the work that’s going on I-5,” he said. “We still hope the public will come and join us in celebrating Armed Forces Day.”
Joyce Chen: 253-597-8426