WA: Operation I-5 Partnership Project


WINNER: Innovative Management – Small Project
Operation I-5 Partnership Project
Tacoma, WA

For years, the traffic between Tacoma and Olympia, Washington, continued to grow as the economy and population of the South Puget Sound diversified and expanded. But after drivers came to a grinding halt, a coalition of organizations joined forces to creatively solve the traffic snarl that stretched for miles through a military base nestled between the two cities.

In 2010, traffic along a 50-year-old stretch of Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Olympia would often grind to a halt despite years of local, state and federal government cooperation aimed at keeping traffic moving. Drivers faced 11-mile backups along the highway that winds through the heavily used Lewis-McChord military base.

Working as a coalition of federal, state, military and local leaders, a solution was found. According to Col. Thomas Brittain, US Army commander, “Due to our partnership with WSDOT, and the coordination and hard work of everyone involved in this project, we were able to brainstorm and implement some relatively small fixes that provided almost immediate results.”

Interchanges at military gates were improved with better alignment and better-timed traffic signals; never-before-opened gates were unlocked so military personnel could access the military base; and tools such as Incident Response were quickly deployed to combat the congestion. Each agency’s flexibility and willingness to participate led to the success of this project.


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