Inside Opinion

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Tag: state Route 16


Years of torture on state Route 16 about to end

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

This weekend, nine years after the Legislature passed a gas tax to help pay for highway projects across the state, South Sound drivers will get a dramatic reminder of the wisdom of that investment.

Road crews will start rearranging highway barriers, blasting the roadway clean and laying new striping late Saturday so that traffic can begin flowing from Interstate 5 to state Route 16 in a brand new way.

Nothing this big has happened for Tacoma-area commuters since the first crossing of the second Tacoma Narrows bridge in 2007.

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Misplaced offramp a costly mistake for state

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The state Department of Transportation erred twice in building – and now rebuilding – an offramp on state Route 16.

The biggest mistake: Engineering problems that led a contractor to build an offramp in the wrong place. The runner-up: Not being more forthcoming with the taxpaying and traveling public about the error.

Transportation officials acknowledged Monday what is now obvious: That crews are in the midst of tearing apart and lowering the recently completed eastbound offramp to Sprague Avenue.

A contractor built the ramp in the wrong place – because the state told it to. State engineers forgot to account for a third lane of the eastbound mainline, largely because the department had split design work between two teams – one for the eastbound lanes and one for the westbound lanes.

To avoid a second closure of Sprague Avenue, the eastbound offramp was included in the contract for the westbound work now underway. But no one from the eastbound design team apparently told the westbound engineers to account for an additional lane, and the westbound team apparently didn’t ask.

Paula Hammond, the state secretary of transportation, said Monday a review is under way to determine exactly what went wrong.

It appears that the blunder can be at least partly attributed to confusion resulting from a scramble for federal stimulus dollars. In its rush to qualify for the money, the state reassigned employees who should have been checking for inconsistencies in the Highway 16 plans to working on the Interstate 5 HOV lanes in north Pierce County.

Mistakes happen, although rarely are they this big (a fix will cost taxpayers $890,000) or this glaring.

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Put the collar on Nalley Valley line-jumpers

Huge traffic backups are occurring on I-5 as drivers merge into one lane to exit onto state Route 16. Staff photo

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

When the second Narrows Bridge opened in 2007, Tacoma-area commuters celebrated: Virtually overnight the regular rush-hour backup on state Route 16 had become a thing of the past.
But like the movie monster that just won’t die, the nightmare is back – and apparently not going away any time soon.

A state Department of Transportation construction project is under way to get rid of the infamous Nalley Valley viaduct “weave.” That was the dangerous maneuver that took place when northbound Interstate 5 drivers wanted to merge onto state Route 16 at the same time traffic from southbound I-5 was trying to take the Sprague Avenue exit. Read more »