As construction on the new Veterans Drive Tunnel near Kent and Des Moines inches closer to completion, legal speed limits on northbound I-5 will lower temporarily, replacing the advisory speed limit currently in place.

On Wednesday, April 17, 2024, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will post a temporary 50 mph speed limit on northbound I-5 near SR 516/Kent Des Moines Road between milepost 148 (South 272nd Street or exit 147) and milepost 151 (South 200th Street/Military Road South or exit 151).

The lower speed limit will be regulatory instead of advisory, meaning drivers can be cited by Washington State Patrol for speeding through this area. Traffic fines double in work zones. The temporary lower speed limit is expected to be in place through July.

The speed reduction allows construction crews to work safely in the median of I-5 as they build the Veterans Drive Tunnel under northbound I-5. Creating the larger, safer work zone requires shifting the northbound HOV lane into a barrier-protected lane on the southbound side of I-5. General-purpose lanes will continue to shift to the right, something crews have gradually done since March.

Lane and ramp closures 

Crews will complete the traffic shifts with overnight lane and ramp closures before the reduced speed limit is in place:

Monday, April 15, through the morning of Tuesday, April 16

  • 9:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. – Up to three lanes of northbound I-5 between South 272nd Street (Exit 147) and South 200th Street/Military Road South (Exit 151) will close.
  • 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – Up to two lanes of southbound I-5 between South 200th Street/Military Road South (Exit 151) and South 272nd Street (Exit 147) will close.

Tuesday, April 16, through the morning of Wednesday, April 17

  • 8 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Up to two lanes of northbound I-5 between South 272nd Street (Exit 147) and South 200th Street/Military Road South (Exit 151) will close.
  • 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. – The SR 516 ramp to southbound I-5 will close. A signed detour will be in place.

The work is weather dependent and may be rescheduled in the event of rain.

When the traffic shifts are complete, crews will begin building the east half of the tunnel under northbound I-5. The west half of the tunnel was completed in summer 2023. This work is part of the SR 509 Completion Project.

Veterans Drive Tunnel details 

The Veterans Drive Tunnel is expected to open to traffic in fall 2025. Once completed, it will provide a more direct connection to the Kent Valley from I-5 and west of I-5 and manage congestion at the I-5/SR 516 interchange. The tunnel will be 190 feet long with two steel archways, one for each direction of traffic.

Benefits of speed reductions 

Construction on high-speed, multilane roadways with high traffic volumes can increase risk to both construction crews and drivers. Reducing speeds encourages travelers to slow down, follow posted speed-limit signs and remain alert while traveling through an active work zone.

WSDOT is reminding all drivers in work zones to:

  • Slow down. Drive the posted speeds; they are there for your safety.
  • Be kind. Our workers are out there helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways.
  • Pay attention. Both to the workers directing you and surrounding traffic.
  • Stay calm. Expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.

SR 509 Completion Project information 

The SR 509 Completion Project builds 3 miles of new tolled highway between I-5 and South 188th Street near the south end of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The expressway and its features can be viewed in an interactive map. The new highway will be completed in stages. The portion currently under construction between I-5 and 24th Avenue South is scheduled to open in 2025. The final stage will build the remaining 2 miles of the expressway between 24th Avenue South and South 188th Street. The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2028.

Puget Sound Gateway Program information 

The SR 509 Completion Project is part of WSDOT’s Puget Sound Gateway Program, which also includes the SR 167 Completion Project in Pierce County. Combined, the two projects will connect critical missing links in Washington’s highway and freight network.

One reply on “Speed limit reductions coming to I-5 near Kent/Des Moines beginning Wednesday, April 17”

  1. Does the Speed Limit sign in the State of Washington not mean you should stay above the noted speed? At least that what it seems on all the roads I travel.

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