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Heads up: Major traffic restrictions planned for eastbound SR 16 in January
TACOMA — Continued reconstruction of the Nalley Valley viaduct is humming right along. To keep the $115 million safety and mobility project moving forward, major daytime traffic restrictions and overnight closures are needed on eastbound State Route 16 during a dry weekend in January.
“This work is a month out, but we wanted to give motorists an early heads up,” said Washington State Department of Transportation Project Engineer Neal Uhlmeyer. “We have the potential for major impacts in the middle of the day, and the more that people can avoid the area over that weekend, the better.”
On a typical weekend, this stretch of eastbound SR 16 is traveled by more than 100,000 vehicles. WSDOT traffic engineers warn that without a reduction in traffic during the restrictions, eastbound backups could reach the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which is six miles away.
Work of this magnitude is typically scheduled at night to minimize impacts to drivers. However, once crews start on this phase of the project, they must continue until it’s complete, which means working through the entire weekend.
“We have an awful lot of work to do over that weekend. We will excavate and rebuild a section of SR 16, and we have to get the work done before we can reopen the eastbound lanes in this area,” said Uhlmeyer. “We won’t be able to narrow down exact dates until we have a reliable forecast, but we are hoping to get the work done in early January.”
A total of three nights of closures and two days of daytime restrictions will be scheduled for eastbound SR 16. Crews will pave and stripe a segment of highway to move eastbound SR 16 traffic from the current temporary eastbound viaduct onto the new permanent eastbound viaduct.
Once the traffic shift is complete, crews will demolish most of the temporary viaduct. A segment on the west end of the viaduct will remain and will be used in a future project to build a viaduct for high-occupancy-vehicle traffic.
WSDOT encourages drivers to start considering how they may avoid traveling this section of SR 16 during the weekend impacts in January, including adjusting travel schedules, taking alternate routes or perhaps delaying trips.