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Washington State DOT Announces the Opening of Northbound and Southbound I-5 HOV Lanes

TACOMA, WA — Guy F. Atkinson Construction crews recently opened the long-awaited new northbound I-5 HOV lane in Tacoma and the southbound I-5 HOV lanes in Pierce County.
Northbound I-5 HOV Lane
People using the eastbound State Route 16 HOV lane can now enter the northbound Interstate 5 HOV lane and continue into Seattle without changing lanes. The new lane connects the existing HOV lane that begins on SR 16 in Gig Harbor with the one that starts in Fife.

“Having a continuous HOV lane from Pierce County to Seattle is something no one has experienced,” said Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Region Administrator Steve Roark. “It’s finally here, and we know drivers will see huge improvements.”

The new northbound HOV lane is located to the left of the general-purpose lanes. Depending on location, the HOV and general-purpose lanes are separated by a barrier or a solid line.

Southbound I-5 HOV Lane
The new southbound lane connects the existing HOV lane running from Seattle to Fife with the one that stretches from Tacoma to westbound State Route 16 in Gig Harbor.

“Opening HOV lanes through this corridor creates much-needed capacity and provides improved drive times during peak commute hours,” said Project Engineer Tom Slimak.

HOV lanes help maximize the movement of people, and not just vehicles. In areas where population and traffic volumes continue to increase, such as Pierce County, HOV lanes are an essential tool to help keep people moving.

“We can’t build our way out of congestion, but we can build lanes that maximize the movement of people,” Roark said. “For the first time ever, anyone traveling through or living in Pierce County can use a fully connected HOV system between SR 16 in Gig Harbor and I-5 in Seattle.”

History of the Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program
The Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program added over 25 HOV lane miles to I-5, SR 16, and SR 167. The program consists of over 14 projects built from 2001 to 2022 totaling $1.4 billion.
  • In 2007, WSDOT opened its first HOV lanes in Pierce County on SR 16.
  • In 2010, WSDOT opened the first I-5 HOV lanes in Fife.
About the Project
The I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road Southbound HOV project connects 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.
  • Rebuilt the East L Street overpass across I-5.
  • Replaced the original northbound I-5 roadway surface from East McKinley Way to Portland Avenue.
  • Replaced the original southbound I-5 roadway surface from Port of Tacoma Road to East McKinley Way.
  • Upgraded signing, lighting, and traffic data sensors.
  • Improved stormwater collection and treatment facilities.
  • Removes the original 1962 I-5 bridges, over the Puyallup River.

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