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Posted on: May 25, 2022

Traffic Updates

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Current Road Projects, Closures and Traffic Alerts


sr 167 completion project: Traffic and construction updates

54th Avenue intersection: Lane closure 2/12 – 3/11

Construction work to install utilities and illumination on 54th Avenue East in Fife requires night-time lane closures of a single northbound and southbound lane between 4th Street East and 8th Street East from Feb. 12 to March 11. Lanes will close weeknights from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. while crews complete this work. People traveling on 54th Avenue in this area can expect to drive on inner north and southbound lanes and may encounter evening delays.    

Wapato Way East bridge: Lane closure 2/26 – 3/8 

Construction work for a planned Interstate 5 off-ramp in Fife requires a two-week, around-the-clock closure of the southbound right lane on the Wapato Way East bridge. 

Beginning 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 26, the Washington State Department of Transportation will close the right southbound lane on the Wapato Way East bridge between the Wapato Way roundabout and 20th Street East intersection. 

The roundabout exits and bypass lane off State Route 99 will not be affected. Drivers on SR 99 approaching the roundabout and exits to the bridge may encounter delays as southbound drivers merge into a single lane across the bridge.

The closure will be in place until 5 p.m. Friday, March 8, as construction crews drill shafts to support a new elevated off-ramp for the future highway extension. 


ORANGE LANE STRIPING ON I-5 IN FIFE CALLS ATTENTION TO THE WORK ZONE 

Orange lane striping has been added to white lane lines between milepost 138 near Wapato Way and milepost 139 near Porter Way to call attention to work zones related to the State Route 167 Completion Project. The orange striping will remain in place throughout the summer until lane lines return to traditional white striping in fall 2023. 

What drivers should do
 
As travelers approach the new orange and white lane lines, they should:

  • Continue to drive through the work zone using caution. 
  • Observe the posted 50 mph construction zone speed limit. 
  • Stay alert, follow construction signage, slow down and remain focused on the road to keep themselves and crews safe. 

ABOUT THE sr 167 PROJECT 

WA 167WSDOT’s SR 167 project to construct a two-mile-long highway connecting I-5 and SR 509 near the Port of Tacoma is underway.

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.


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BRIDGE BUILDING ON SR 99 IN FIFE REQUIRES LONG-TERM BYPASS FOR NORTHBOUND TRAFFIC

Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 21, a two-lane bypass, or shoofly, will be in place on northbound SR 99 through September 2024. The bypass will begin just north of the Wapato Way roundabout and rejoin SR 99 near 70th Avenue East.

While the bypass is in place, construction crews on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s SR 167 Completion Project will build the new four-lane bridge over Hylebos Creek.

No left turns at 70th Ave E

While the bypass is in use, travelers cannot turn left onto or off 70th Avenue East.

  • Northbound SR 99 travelers who need to reach neighborhoods off 70th Avenue East should consider using Porter Way.
  • Southbound drivers on 70th Avenue East will not be allowed to turn north onto SR 99. Travelers can make a right turn onto southbound SR 99, and then continue to the Wapato Way roundabout to turn north.

New Hylebos Creek bridges 

New bridges are a key element of the completion project’s riparian restoration program which rebuilds and revitalizes nearly 150 acres of wetlands and streams on either side of Interstate 5 near the Fife curve. Restoring this area requires five new bridges between I-5 and Eighth Street East to allow Hylebos Creek to flow more naturally to Commencement Bay. Besides SR 99, some of the new bridges built or under construction for the creek are located on Eighth and 12th streets East, and I-5.

Construction crews have already rebuilt and realigned Hylebos Creek between SR 99 and Eighth Street East. In late summer 2024, the creek will be directed into new channels under both SR 99 and I-5. Improving the creek and nearby wetlands will provide better habitat for fish and wildlife and help reduce chronic flooding that frequently occurs on I-5 after heavy rain. The restored creek and wetlands will provide more room for rainwater to recede from the freeway.

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NEW ALL-WAY STOP AT 70TH & LEVEE

As of Sunday morning, Oct. 8, the intersection at 70th Ave and N Levee Rd has become an all-way stop. New stop signage was placed, with orange flags to call attention to the change. 
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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 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on school days 

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

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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.

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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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