Puget Sound Transportation Projects
SR 16/Nalley Valley Viaduct
The SR16/Nalley Valley Viaduct project is a multistage project to replace the Nalley Valley Viaduct, rebuild and expand the connections with Interstate 5 and eventually add direct HOV connections between I-5 and SR 16.
The SR 16/I-5 interchange is one of the most congested in the state. What was once no more than a freeway spur ending at Union Avenue, and not even grade separated on the Olympic Peninsula, has now become a 6 lane highway, utilized by 131,000 vehicles a day coming and going to Gig Harbor and Bremerton. This project also complements HOV work done on both sides of the Tacoma Narrows and the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
The project has been dogged by controversy. A ramp was built too close to the main highway after two separate design teams did not share design changes. Confusion has reigned with citizens not understanding the intricacies of the multistage design. Temporary traffic detours have worsened the already horrendous traffic in the area. But in the end we will have a larger, better designed interchange.
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I still remember when the freeway ended shortly after Union, right after the current Snake Lake bridges. I also remember the expansion project that pushed it through to the Narrows Bridge. When I went to school at Bellarmine Prep, right off of Union, we used to take SR 16 across the viaduct. Of course then traffic volumes were much lighter.
With the continued growth of the Olympic Peninsula and North Tacoma, both served by SR 16, this is a very important project. The current off ramps to the viaduct were never designed to support the amount of traffic they now carry. This resulted in major traffic backups and accidents. Also, while many decry HOV lanes, they have been proven to work, especially in heavily congested areas. Having direct connections between SR 16 and I-5 will definitely have a positive impact on traffic.
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