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SR-16 closures, changes planned

Testing of the toll booths for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the building of a new on-ramp will lead to road closures and other changes on State Route 16 this month, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Spokeswoman Claudia Cornish said that starting this evening at 7 p.m., Tacoma Narrows Construc-tors (TNC) will close the SR-16 eastbound exit to Jackson Avenue in Tacoma. It will remain completely closed for an estimated 30 days, and during that time motorists will be detoured to the Pearl Street exit instead.

Closure of the ramp will allow TNC to tear down the existing ramp, then build a new one to “match the new bridge’s permanent eastbound alignment and lanes,” Cornish said.

Since the north bridge sidewalk is closed to bicyclists each weekday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for unrelated maintenance work, crews will maintain a path for bicyclists through the ramp construction zone and onto the south sidewalk.

Another change in traffic near the bridge will begin tomorrow, as Cornish said eastbound traffic on SR-16 will be rerouted through the toll plaza for testing of the new electronic toll collection(ETC) equipment.

Between 7 p.m. tomorrow July 6, and 5 a.m. Friday, eastbound traffic on SR-16 will be reduced to one lane approaching 36th Street, then rerouted through the far right lane in the toll plaza.

Cornish said motorists will be advised to reduce their speeds to 15 miles per hour while traveling through the toll booth section, and delays are expected.

While cars are traveling near the toll booths, TransCore, the company hired by WSDOT to manage and operate the toll facility, will be conducting tests on the eastbound “express lane” ETC equipment located on the toll gantries.

Although mainline traffic will be detoured away from the express lanes, Cornish said motorists will see cars using the express lanes as part of the test, and the gantry equipment will be lighted during the testing process.

Cornish said similar detours will be required for future tests of the ETC equipment.

A third change to bridge traffic will begin in about two weeks. Starting July 16 at 7 p.m., TNC will close the middle two lanes (one eastbound and one westbound) of SR-16 across the existing bridge for several hours each night through July 20.

Until Friday, July 21, the inside eastbound lane will close at 7 p.m. and reopen by 5 a.m. each day, and the inside westbound lane will close at 9 p.m. and reopen by 7 a.m. each day.

During these closures, TNC will remove temporary falsework on the Tacoma tower’s strut over the roadway, which allowed crews to continue seismic retrofit work on the existing bridge without affecting traffic moving in the lanes below.

For more information on these closures and the new bridge, visit www.tacomanarrowsbridge.com

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