What’s with the sharp corner on new Sprague Avenue off-ramp?

The in basket: Gary Reed and Ronda Armstrong both wonder about the reasoning behind the L-shaped angle at the top of one of the Sprague Avenue ramps in the Nalley Valley project where I-5 and Highway 16 meet in Tacoma.

“I noted the new Sprague Avenue exit from leaves 16, goes up the twice-built ramp, and quickly goes into a 90-degree left turn,” said Gary. “I’m wondering if the WSDOT engineers have a pool going as to how long before the first accident occurs at the end of the ramp.

“I can envision a person steaming up that ramp, at night, rainy and icy, and smashing into the barricade at the top of the ramp, or, maybe even flipping over the barricade and plunging down into Nalley Valley,” he said. “I’m wondering why the sudden left turn, and not a smooth transition? I suppose the 40 mph signs are the deterrent? Or maybe the money was spent on correcting the poor ramp build? Twice?”

The out basket: Lisa Coleman, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highway says that part of the interchange won’t be finished for more than a year, when it will have traffic signals.

“We considered leaving the exit closed until the eastbound project is done in 2013 but opted to open it in the interim, in the ‘L”’ configuration (eventually it will be  a ‘T’).  It will close for some time during eastbound construction.”

Bids on the remaining work are to be opened Aug. 24. You can get an idea what the finished project will look like online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/piercecountyhov/sr16_ebnalleyvalley/.

There is a video depiction online that runs a couple of minutes but it could really benefit from some narration rather than just the musical background it now has.

If you call it up, use the pause button to give yourself time to grasp what you are seeing. It appears there will be separate eastbound ramps to go north or south on I-5 from the existing structure with the 90-degree corner.

One thought on “What’s with the sharp corner on new Sprague Avenue off-ramp?

  1. Looks like this might turn out OK when completed. Right now, just about everything seems worse than if nothing was done at all.

    I’ve been most confused about why S/B I-5 to 16 changed. Previously, you traffic coming on to I-5 had to merge, and as long as you were in the right lane of S/B I-5 you could take the exit. Now, they have shortened the distance available to take the exit off I-5 S by a half mile while forcing you to weave through vehicles merging on to I-5 S/B from SR-7, I-705, or Pacific Ave.

    On top of this, instead of having the higher traffic volume from S/B I-5 establish the left two lanes of SR-16, only one lane actually is established from S/B I-5, the other exits to Union Ave.

    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/30D2AFAF-EB41-4CA1-9363-8F531B08016F/0/UltimateLabeledNVTrafficConfigHandout276kb.pdf

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