Tag Archives: Nalley Valley

50 mph now permanent speed limit at Nalley Valley eastbound

The in basket: It wasn’t more than a couple of months ago I was driving on Highway 16 in Tacoma approaching Nalley Valley when my companion commented on the 40 mile per hour speed limit that had been in place for years while major construction was done just ahead.

No one ever slows to anywhere near that speed, she noted, which certainly has been true when traffic was flowing freely.

The speed limit was raised to 60 mph in the other direction a year or so ago when all the westbound work was completed.

The other day I was back in the same spot and saw that the speed limit heading into the valley had been raised to 50 mph.

I asked if that denotes recognition of the folly of the 40 zone, completion of a milestone in the construction, or if 50 is to be the permanent speed limit there.

The out basket: Doug Adamson of the Olympic Region of state highways, replied, “The speed limits in the area were permanently adjusted following completion of the westbound and eastbound Nalley Valley construction projects.  There are no plans at this time to make any additional changes to the speed limits for this section of SR 16.”

Apparently the lower eastbound speed limit recognizes that more complex driver decisions lie ahead than for those going the other way.

Earthwork at Nalley Valley raises reader’s curiosity

The in basket: Bruce Fields of Bremerton e-mailed to say, “I drive by the I-5/Highway 16/38th Street project in Tacoma each day. A few weeks ago they built up the north landing for the new bridge section, put big blocks on top and marked it with survey stakes.

“A few days later they lowered the staked spot 30-plus feet and moved it southwest by about the same.

“Was this for compaction of the bank for the piling bore holes or did they make a mistake and had to relocate the ‘spot?'”he asked.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways says “What the driver is seeing is a ‘pre-load’ of weight to purposefully compact the ground in that area.

“The pre-load material has been on-site for about two weeks, and twice daily surveyors have checked for settlement. Once the area settles to our geotechnical engineers’ satisfaction, the material will be removed,” she said.


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.