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Posted on: May 25, 2022

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CURRENT ROAD PROJECTS: CLOSURES, LANE REDUCTIONS AND MORE IN FIFE 


SR167/I-5 TO SR509 NEW EXPRESSWAY PROJECT CONSTRUCTION UPDATES & UPCOMING CLOSURES

WA 167

As you’ve probably noticed, the next stage of WSDOT’s SR 167 project is underway. 

On July 8, WSDOT, City of Fife officials and other regional partners, celebrated the groundbreaking of stage 1b, the construction of a two-mile-long highway between I-5 and SR 509 near the Port of Tacoma. The electronically tolled expressway is designed to improve movement of freight and reduce congestion on nearby roads and highways. This phase of the project will also improve safety for walkers, rollers and cyclists by adding new sidewalks and a segment of the multi-use Tacoma to Puyallup Trail. 

Although this construction will lead to meaningful long-term benefits, it will also have an impact on traffic in the Fife area. The WSDOT website offers up-to-date information on the full SR 167 Completion Project, along with real-time travel data to help you understand how it could affect your journeys. WSDOT also have some helpful blog information that you can read here.


Here is some information on related closures:

SR-167 Shoulder closure

Through Oct. 14: The right shoulder of the SR-167 alignment between 20th and SR-509 will be closed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays through Sept. 30. for shoulder-widening work.


area overnight i-5 closures

Oct. 1 - 2: WSDOT will close 20th St Dr. E. early Saturday morning from 2am-4am for street grinding. The street will be closed again from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Sunday to be paved and striped.


SCHOOL ZONE SAFETY CAMERAS

Here’s a reminder that Fife's safety cameras have been reactivated now that school is back in session. It’s so important as our students are out and about again that local drivers keep the speed down. There’s no question about the effectiveness of speed cameras in reducing the likelihood of a crash, but did you also know that speed cameras also reduce the likelihood of fatalities? (read more at https://www.iihs.org/topics/speed). 

Please note:

• Our school zone safety cameras are located along Valley Avenue East and 20th Street East.

• Flashing lights are active between 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on school days 

• A reduced speed of 20 m.p.h. is imposed during these hours


ecology blocks near railroad crossing on 54th ave east

Heads up: Several ecology blocks have been placed north and south of the railroad tracks on 54th Ave. E. The maps below show the approximate locations of the blocks. These will include barricades and 'Road Closed' signs. They will be placed to still allow emergency vehicles access if necessary. The goal is to slow vehicles down and prevent anyone from striking the gates at full speed. 

54th Ave south of RR tracks54th Ave north of RR tracks


Five lanes open on new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge in Tacoma 
New HOV lanes open this summer 

(Information from WSDOT press release)

It is a milestone that drivers who use southbound I-5 through Fife have been anticipating.

On Friday, April 1, all southbound travel lanes were moved onto the new 1,579-foot-long southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge.

For the past several weeks Guy F. Atkinson Construction crews, working for the Washington State Department of Transportation, closed lanes and ramps at night to re-stripe southbound I-5 to final alignment.

More travel lanes
On Friday, five of six new lanes opened across the southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. People traveling south on I-5 from Fife to Tacoma will have four general purpose lanes and a new auxiliary lane to use while traveling across the new bridge.

The new auxiliary lane runs from the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp the exit for Portland Avenue, Bay Street, and northbound State Route 167. The new lane gives drivers more time and space to merge in and out of traffic. The original bridge, built in 1962, did not have an auxiliary lane between these two ramps.

The old southbound bridge had four general purpose lanes with no room for an auxiliary lane or HOV lane. During construction, southbound I-5 was reduced to three lanes in a temporary configuration across the northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. 

New HOV lanes this summer signals project completion
The southbound HOV lane will remain closed until summer. Crews need this lane as a work zone to finish the new East L Street bridge over I-5. The contractor anticipates opening the HOV lanes on both northbound and southbound I-5 when construction on East L Street bridge is complete this summer. 

Changes coming to northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge 
Both directions of I-5 across the Puyallup River have shared the northbound bridge for almost three years while crews built the new southbound bridge and removed the original bridges.

With southbound I-5 travel lanes moving off the northbound bridge, crews will remove temporary barrier and restripe the northbound lanes into their final configuration. Drivers will see overnight lane and ramp closures as this work progresses in the coming weeks. The new northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge opened to travelers in late 2018.

About the project
 
The I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road Southbound HOV project will connect the HOV lanes to I-5 and SR 16 in Tacoma. This project also:

  • Built a new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge that meets current seismic standards.
  • Rebuilds the L Street overpass across I-5. 
  • Replaces the original I-5 roadway surface from McKinley Avenue to Portland Avenue. 
  • Upgrades signing, lighting and traffic data sensors. 
  • Improves stormwater collection and treatment facilities. 
  • Removes the original 1962 I-5 bridges, over the Puyallup River.

Real-time traffic information is available on the WSDOT statewide travel map, the WSDOT app and WSDOT regional Twitter account.


LOWER WAPATO CREEK WORK 

UPDATE: As of April 8, 2022 at 3:00 pm KLB removed the final barricades and detour signs opening 12th Street and the newly constructed bridge crossing over Wapato Creek to public use.

Here’s a long-term construction project that is ongoing. In partnership with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Port of Tacoma will begin construction on the Lower Wapato Creek Habitat Project. This project consists of two primary fish and wetland habitat restoration elements. The project area is located between 12th Street East and SR 509. Wapato Creek map

Details include:

    Work for this project began on July 26, 2021 and will continue through April 2022

    The project will restore stream and wetland habitat with native plants. The project will re-establish stream and wetland habitat on approximately 20 acres of tidally influenced estuary and fish bearing stream.

    The project also will replace the 12th Street Wapato Creek culverts with a bridge

    The work will result in a closure of 12th Street East, from 46th Avenue East to Alexander Avenue East, for the bridge work. That closure is expected from July 26, 2021 through April 2022. Access will be provided to local residents. 

More info at: https://www.portoftacoma.com/environment/habitat-restoration/lower-wapato-creek-habitat-project



wsdot debuts next step in wapato way east bridge project. New shared-use path opens in fife

Pedestrians and cyclists in Fife can now safely cross I-5 with the debut of a shared-use path on the new Wapato Way East Bridge. The new path opened July 23. This path is part of the WSDOT Wapato Way East Bridge project that added a bridge over I-5 and a roundabout in Fife. The new 12-feet wide path is safer because it is a dedicated and barrier-separated path used only by pedestrians and cyclists. Here’s what else you should know: WSDOT replaced the old Interurban Trail parking lot with a new one and extended the Interurban Trail to connect from the east side of the new bridge across I-5 to the west side of the bridge. The path connects to new roundabout sidewalks and will eventually be part of a 2.5 mile shared-use path to Tacoma that will be completed by early 2026. Get out and enjoy these new amenities!

Here’s what else you should know about the project. After 18 months of construction, the new Wapato Way East Bridge over I-5 in Fife opened on Monday, June 28! The new four-lane bridge doubled the capacity of the old 70th Avenue East Bridge, which was permanently closed to vehicular traffic on June 25, 2021. 

There is some additional work needed to the new bridge and pedestrian and bicycle access, which is expected to be completed around mid-summer.

Watch a video from WSDOT on the new Wapato Way East Bridge and the future SR 167 here -  https://youtu.be/P-k_ENoBT-U

Once the Wapato Way East Bridge is fully open and construction is complete, motorists will have:

  • A roundabout with two southbound and two northbound lanes and bypass “slip” lanes from northbound SR 99 to the bridge and from the bridge to northbound SR 99. The slip lanes provide direct access to and from the bridge, allowing drivers to bypass the roundabout and improving traffic flow.
  • New sidewalks and crosswalks, with pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at the roundabout.
  • New pedestrian and bicycle access along a 12-foot-wide path that is separated from traffic.

Questions? Visit the WSDOT project page at https://wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr167/completion/construction


WSDOT 70th roundabout BACKGROUND 

The debut of the new roundabout at SR 99 and 70th Avenue East has come in stages this year. Opening the 70th roundabout in phases has allowed construction to continue without the major inconvenience of a full road closure. The first section of the roundabout, heading northbound, opened in February.  The second section of the roundabout, heading southbound, opened May 22.  The Wapato Avenue East Bridge will open fully to the public on June 28. There will be some minor work ahead to tie in the bridge and also a few other small projects. This work is part of WSDOT's Puget Sound Gateway Project.  
 

Here are a few things to know about the new roundabout and bridge: 

  • Drivers should slow down when entering the roundabout; the posted speed limit on SR 99 is 35 mph and a safe roundabout speed is 15 mph. 
  • Drivers should give trucks plenty of space in the roundabout and should not drive next to or attempt to pass trucks in the roundabout. By law, trucks are allowed to straddle lanes in the roundabout.  
  • The new bridge and roundabout will reduce the delays drivers currently experience on the existing bridge and SR 99/70th Avenue East intersection, as well as improve safety for everyone who drives, walks, bikes or rolls through the area. 


Wapato Way East bridge

HAVE ROUNDABOUT ANXIETY? HERE'S HELP 

A few tips on how to drive a roundabout: https://wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts/default.htm

A handy guide to print out: https://wsdot.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2014/09/23/webRoundabout_Folio_Statewide_English_040615.pdf

And here are videos to watch: 

A five-part video series about driving a roundabout: https://wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts/default.htm#learnmore

Learn more about how roundabouts work and how they improve traffic circulation - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-olqiG42Ud4

How to drive a roundabout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2nQ__1YJps

Bellingham roundabout traffic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFBuwIV4isg 

Here is what not to do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDaQZUzJCNM

Additional Resources

WSDOT Project website -- https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR167/completion/default.htm 

A WSDOT project PDF with a deep dive into the details - https://wsdot.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2020/12/02/SR167-Fall2020-Newsletter.pdf

The WSDOT construction website -- https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr167/completion/construction 

The WSDOT construction cameras -- https://app.oxblue.com/open/atkinson/WSDOT

The WSDOT Roundabout Blog -- https://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2021/01/coming-around-to-roundabouts-on-sr-99.html


OTHER UPDATES AND PROJECTS

TAYLOR WAY PROJECT  

The City of Tacoma started a construction project in July along Taylor Way from East 11th Street to SR 509. There will be paving, utility placement, railroad crossing replacement and more that might lead to some traffic interruptions in and around Fife. This is the beginning of the project with more work to come in the next several months. You can read the full details at the City of Tacoma’s website.  

SPEED LIMIT NOTICE ALONG PACIFIC HIGHWAY EAST

Our partners at WSDOT  would like us to pass along that drivers who travel along State Route 99 in Fife will notice a lower speed limit. Drivers will notice a temporary regulatory speed limit reduction along SR 99 in Fife. The speed limit will be reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph for approximately one mile near the 70th Avenue East Bridge.

The speed limit reduction will be in place on both directions of SR 99 from milepost 0.40 near 59th Avenue Court East to milepost 1.18 near the 70th Avenue East Bridge. Those mileposts are near a Washington State Department of Transportation project to complete SR 167, build a new 70th Avenue East Bridge and construct a new roundabout at the SR 99 / 70th Avenue East intersection.
 
The reduced speed limit is the result of a coordinated effort between WSDOT and law enforcement to ensure safe traffic operations during construction. The reduced speed limit will be combined with increased enforcement efforts to encourage compliance.
 
The temporary speed limit reduction will remain in effect until construction is complete in July 2021. It is WSDOT’s intent to evaluate after construction if the speed reduction should become permanent. 
 
Real-time traffic information is available on the WSDOT app. Advance information is available on the Pierce County Construction and Traffic Update web page: https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/travel/construction-updates/pierce



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