News Flash


Posted on: December 15, 2021

Traffic Updates




After a three-week closure, construction crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation reopened 20th Street Drive East in Fife on Saturday, Jan. 22.  The street that runs under Interstate 5 was closed Jan. 3  so that WSDOT crews could remove and demolish sections of the old northbound and southbound I-5 bridges. 

 Background: This removal was part of WSDOT’s Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program. Read more on the WSDOT project page here:



Here’s a long-term construction project that is ongoing. In partnership with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Port of Tacoma will begin construction on the Lower Wapato Creek Habitat Project. This project consists of two primary fish and wetland habitat restoration elements. The project area is located between 12th Street East and SR 509. Wapato Creek map

Details include:

    Work for this project began on July 26, 2021 and will continue through February 2022

    The project will restore stream and wetland habitat with native plants. The project will re-establish stream and wetland habitat on approximately 20 acres of tidally influenced estuary and fish bearing stream.

    The project also will replace the 12th Street Wapato Creek culverts with a bridge

    The work will result in a closure of 12th Street East, from 46th Avenue East to Alexander Avenue East, for the bridge work. That closure is expected from July 26, 2021 through February 2022. Access will be provided to local residents. 

More info at:


Here’s a reminder that Fife's safety cameras will reactivate now that school is back in session as of Sept. 2, 2021. It’s so important as our students are out and about again that local drivers keep the speed down. There’s no question about the effectiveness of speed cameras in reducing the likelihood of a crash, but did you also know that speed cameras also reduce the likelihood of fatalities? (read more at
Please note:
• Our school zone safety cameras are located along Valley Avenue East and 20th Street East.
• Flashing lights are active between 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on school days 
• A reduced speed of 20 m.p.h. is imposed during these hours.

wsdot debuts next step in wapato way east bridge project. New shared-use path opens in fife

Pedestrians and cyclists in Fife can now safely cross I-5 with the debut of a shared-use path on the new Wapato Way East Bridge. The new path opened July 23. This path is part of the WSDOT Wapato Way East Bridge project that added a bridge over I-5 and a roundabout in Fife. The new 12-feet wide path is safer because it is a dedicated and barrier-separated path used only by pedestrians and cyclists. Here’s what else you should know: WSDOT replaced the old Interurban Trail parking lot with a new one and extended the Interurban Trail to connect from the east side of the new bridge across I-5 to the west side of the bridge. The path connects to new roundabout sidewalks and will eventually be part of a 2.5 mile shared-use path to Tacoma that will be completed by early 2026. Get out and enjoy these new amenities!

Here’s what else you should know about the project. After 18 months of construction, the new Wapato Way East Bridge over I-5 in Fife opened on Monday, June 28! The new four-lane bridge doubled the capacity of the old 70th Avenue East Bridge, which was permanently closed to vehicular traffic on June 25, 2021. 

There is some additional work needed to the new bridge and pedestrian and bicycle access, which is expected to be completed around mid-summer.

Watch a video from WSDOT on the new Wapato Way East Bridge and the future SR 167 here -

Once the Wapato Way East Bridge is fully open and construction is complete, motorists will have:

  • A roundabout with two southbound and two northbound lanes and bypass “slip” lanes from northbound SR 99 to the bridge and from the bridge to northbound SR 99. The slip lanes provide direct access to and from the bridge, allowing drivers to bypass the roundabout and improving traffic flow.
  • New sidewalks and crosswalks, with pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at the roundabout.
  • New pedestrian and bicycle access along a 12-foot-wide path that is separated from traffic.

Questions? Visit the WSDOT project page at

WSDOT 70th roundabout BACKGROUND 

The debut of the new roundabout at SR 99 and 70th Avenue East has come in stages this year. Opening the 70th roundabout in phases has allowed construction to continue without the major inconvenience of a full road closure. The first section of the roundabout, heading northbound, opened in February.  The second section of the roundabout, heading southbound, opened May 22.  The Wapato Avenue East Bridge will open fully to the public on June 28. There will be some minor work ahead to tie in the bridge and also a few other small projects. This work is part of WSDOT's Puget Sound Gateway Project.  

Here are a few things to know about the new roundabout and bridge: 

  • Drivers should slow down when entering the roundabout; the posted speed limit on SR 99 is 35 mph and a safe roundabout speed is 15 mph. 
  • Drivers should give trucks plenty of space in the roundabout and should not drive next to or attempt to pass trucks in the roundabout. By law, trucks are allowed to straddle lanes in the roundabout.  
  • The new bridge and roundabout will reduce the delays drivers currently experience on the existing bridge and SR 99/70th Avenue East intersection, as well as improve safety for everyone who drives, walks, bikes or rolls through the area. 

Wapato Way East bridge


A few tips on how to drive a roundabout:

A handy guide to print out:

And here are videos to watch: 

A five-part video series about driving a roundabout:

Learn more about how roundabouts work and how they improve traffic circulation -

How to drive a roundabout:

Bellingham roundabout traffic: 

Here is what not to do:

Additional Resources

WSDOT Project website -- 

A WSDOT project PDF with a deep dive into the details -

The WSDOT construction website -- 

The WSDOT construction cameras --

The WSDOT Roundabout Blog --



The City of Tacoma started a construction project in July along Taylor Way from East 11th Street to SR 509. There will be paving, utility placement, railroad crossing replacement and more that might lead to some traffic interruptions in and around Fife. This is the beginning of the project with more work to come in the next several months. You can read the full details at the City of Tacoma’s website.  


Our partners at WSDOT  would like us to pass along that drivers who travel along State Route 99 in Fife will notice a lower speed limit. Drivers will notice a temporary regulatory speed limit reduction along SR 99 in Fife. The speed limit will be reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph for approximately one mile near the 70th Avenue East Bridge.

The speed limit reduction will be in place on both directions of SR 99 from milepost 0.40 near 59th Avenue Court East to milepost 1.18 near the 70th Avenue East Bridge. Those mileposts are near a Washington State Department of Transportation project to complete SR 167, build a new 70th Avenue East Bridge and construct a new roundabout at the SR 99 / 70th Avenue East intersection.
The reduced speed limit is the result of a coordinated effort between WSDOT and law enforcement to ensure safe traffic operations during construction. The reduced speed limit will be combined with increased enforcement efforts to encourage compliance.
The temporary speed limit reduction will remain in effect until construction is complete in July 2021. It is WSDOT’s intent to evaluate after construction if the speed reduction should become permanent. 
Real-time traffic information is available on the WSDOT app. Advance information is available on the Pierce County Construction and Traffic Update web page:

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Posted on: December 15, 2021
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