Part of Highway 16 is missing!!

The in basket: Pat Davison of Bremerton writes, “Being a stickler for accuracy, I recently noticed that the mileage markers on Highway 16 are WAY off!

“Leaving I-5, headed towards Bremerton, milepost 5 is just before you cross the Narrows Bridge and 3/4 of the way across the bridge, the next post is milepost 8! Therefore,  approximate difference between the actual mileage and posted mileage is off by about 2  1/4 miles all the way to Gorst!

“I know it may not seem like such a big deal to some,” said Pat, “but I just thought I’d let you know of this discrepancy.

The out basket: This was first brought to my attention in 1996, the first year the Road Warrior column appeared in The Sun. And there’s an explanation.

After Highway 16 was established, its route was changed several times on the Tacoma side. It used to follow various city streets, then Bantz Boulevard past Cheney Stadium comprised the bulk of it, and finally it was a continuous freeway from I-5. That all made it shorter, and ultimately it was 2.2 miles shorter than it used to be.

Since all the state’s accident reports and various other records rely on the milepost to identify where something occurred or was done, changing the location of all the mileposts from the bridge north would have led to mass confusion in interpreting those records. So they absorbed the missing 2.2 miles at the bridge, leaving the mileposts elsewhere where they were.

Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, hasn’t been around long enough to know whether it was was done in one move or in stages, but he guesses it was a one-time change made in the 1970s.

The mileposts are shown at each even mile by a short green sign on the highway’s shoulder, though various records break locations down by decimals, such at MP48.35,  to identity a location to within a hundredth of a mile. The milepost is identical in both directions.

4 thoughts on “Part of Highway 16 is missing!!

  1. Ah ha! And that leads to the other SR-16 issue. Some people seem to feel it is a North/South road and feel the East/West designation is wrong. But it isn’t. If you do Google Earth and measure, the north/south distance and the east/west distance are very close to equal. I have maintained that the reason it is east/west is because SR-16 used to be longer because I-5 wasn’t even there prior to 1966, when Highway 99 (Pacific Avenue) would have been the starting location for SR-16, i.e.: further east than it is now. At one time you had to wind through city streets in downtown Tacoma to ‘follow’ the SR-16 signs. Thanks for this vindication!

  2. Umm, that wasn’t in dispute. The signs say 16 East or 16 West and match the pattern. The point is that some people seem to think Highway 16 is mis-labeled, in both direction and appropriate number, because they think it is a North/South highway. This comes up in comments every so often. It kind of feels like that when you drive “north” from Tacoma to Bremerton. In fact the highway is EVER SO SLIGHTLY more East/West than it is North/South. In terms of compass directions overall, the highway runs Northwest/Southeast.

  3. Although I don’t necessary agree that this is a “east/west” highway, I go along with it.
    Milage markers are numbered low to high from south to north and from west to east.
    Why is Hwy 16 numbered low to high starting in Tacoma (east end of hwy) when they should start with #1 in Gorst (west end of hwy)? Hence the milage markers should be changed to start in Gorst. I have been in the area since 1965 well before I-5 was built.

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