Big southbound I-5 traffic shift in Tacoma pushed to next weekend

A big traffic shift scheduled to take place overnight Saturday for southbound Interstate 5 at State Route 16 in Tacoma was postponed until next weekend, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Saturday night, crews were waiting for rain to pass when a collision occurred in the work zone and caused further delays, leaving crews with insufficient time to implement the shift, according to WSDOT spokesperson Cara Mitchell. A driver, she said, hit two subcontractor vehicles and caused damages.

“I can’t stress enough that... we really need the public’s help in paying attention in work zones,” Mitchell said. “... Those work zones are our offices. We’ve had enough of this, and we want to get this project done. The public wants us to get this project done.”

The shift is now scheduled for the overnight hours of Saturday, Aug. 17. It will move all southbound I-5 lanes into permanent alignment, reopen the Sprague Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-5 and open new exit-only ramps to South 38th Street. Drivers won’t have to merge left three lanes on eastbound SR 16 near Union Avenue to access southbound I-5 any longer, Mitchell confirmed.

During the shift, traffic on southbound I-5 will be reduced to a single lane from Yakima Avenue to South 48th Street, and exits 132A and 132B will be closed with detours in place.

Sara Gentzler joined The Olympian in June 2019. She primarily covers Thurston County government and its courts, as well as breaking news. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Creighton University.