Interstate 705 is a short freeway spur connecting Interstate 5 and Washington 7 with downtown Tacoma. Along the freeway, there is only one reassurance shield for Interstate 705 in each direction, and the overhead signs refer to Interstate 705 as "TO Interstate 5 Seattle/Portland," not as Interstate 705. Only two or three signs actually refer to the freeway as Interstate 705, and those are on the new Washington 509 bridge across an inlet of Commencement Bay. Otherwise, most signage in the area makes Interstate 705 appear like it's a giant Interstate 5 approach ramp. There are no exit numbers on Interstate 705, but there are mileage markers (Milepost 1 only).
View of northbound Interstate 705 as seen from an overpass in Tacoma. Photo taken by Justin Cozart, 03/27/05.
Interstate 705 opened to traffic in 1991.1 Establishment of Interstate was conditionally approved by AASHTO back on June 29, 1978.
Southern Terminus - Interstate 5 and Washington 7 - Tacoma, Washington
Perspective from Southbound Interstate 705
Approaching the Washington 509 interchange, the pull-through sign for southbound Interstate 705 refers to Interstate 5 north to Seattle and south to Portland. This view is from the onramp from downtown Tacoma. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The penultimate exit is Junction Washington 509, South 21st Street. Use Washington 509 north (east) to the Port of Tacoma and East-West Road. This is a single-point urban interchange with one traffic signal governing the flow of traffic on the bridge overhead. Photo taken 08/29/06.
After the Washington 509 (South 21st Street) interchange, Interstate 705 prepares to split. Use the left two lanes for the connection to southbound Interstate 5; use the right two lanes to connect to northbound Interstate 5 and southbound Washington 7 (Pacific Avenue). Photo taken 08/29/06.
Southbound Interstate 705 comes to an end as the freeway splits. The left ramp connects to southbound Interstate 5 to Olympia and Portland, while the right ramp offers a connection to northbound Interstate 5 to Seattle and Washington 7 south to Mount Rainier. There is no END shield for Interstate 705. Photo taken 08/29/06.
A gore point for Interstate 5 north/south is located at the end of the freeway. Even though maps show the Washington 7 freeway connection as a "through" route, one must follow the ramp for northbound Interstate 5 to make the connection to southbound Washington 7. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The ramp to Interstate 5 north splits shortly thereafter, with left lanes connecting to northbound Interstate 5 and right lanes connecting to southbound Washington 7. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Continuing along the ramp, Interstate 5 and Washington 7 split. Follow Washington 7 south to Mount Rainier; use Interstate 5 north to Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Southbound Washington 7
A Washington 7 south reassurance shield is posted after the Interstate 5 north ramp. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The first and only exit on the short Washington 7 freeway spur will carry the state highway off of the freeway stub and onto East 38th Street. There were plans to extend the Washington 7 freeway south of East 38th Street, but such plans apparently lie dormant. A concrete arch bridge carries East 34th Street high above the freeway stub, making for a picturesque scene. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Traffic for Washington 7 south departs first from the freeway stub to 38th Street westbound. The second exit offers a connection to 38th Street eastbound. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The freeway stub passes under 38th Street. Photo taken 08/29/06.
On the ramp to 38th Street, the stub of the freeway becomes visible behind a chain link fence. It is unclear whether this freeway spur will ever be constructed. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Northbound Washington 7
Washington 7 leaves Pacific Avenue by way of East 38th Street, then turns north (via a loop ramp) onto the freeway that connects to Interstate 5 and Interstate 705. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The loop ramp brings Washington 7 north onto the freeway. There is a stub ramp that would have continued the freeway further south. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Shortly thereafter, this is the first sign on northbound Washington 7 indicating that straight ahead is Interstate 705 North to City Center. This photo taken from 34th Street directly over Washington 7. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The right lane becomes exit only for northbound Interstate 5 to Seattle. The left three lanes continue north to connect to Interstate 5 south, Interstate 705 north, and Washington 509. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Further along the ramp, the left lane exits to Interstate 5 south to Olympia and Portland, while the right lane transitions onto northbound Interstate 705 en route to downtown Tacoma. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The northbound beginning of Interstate 705 is also the northern terminus of Washington 7. The state highway begins at U.S. 12 in Morton, snaking its way northward near Storm King Mountain before descending upon Spanaway, Parkland, and ultimately Tacoma. This photograph shows the END Washington 7 shield. Note that there is no companion BEGIN Interstate 705 shield. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Northbound Interstate 5
Now approaching Interstate 705 and Washington 7 on northbound Interstate 5, the section of freeway between Washington 16 and Interstate 705 was under construction for freeway widening. Currently (August 2006), the left three lanes continue north on Interstate 5, while the right two lanes exit onto Interstate 705 north and Washington 7 south. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Prior to the Yakima Avenue overpass, northbound Interstate 5 approaches Exit 133, Junction Interstate 705 north to downtown Tacoma and Junction Washington 7 south to Mt. Rainier. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 133, Junction Interstate 705 north and Washington 7 south. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Southbound Interstate 5
The first appearance of an Interstate 705 shield on southbound is this auxiliary signage (prior to Exit 137, Junction Washington 99 north), which advises motorists to use Interstate 705 north for train stations and multi-modal connections. Photo taken 08/29/06.
About three miles south of the first Interstate 705 sign is Exit 135, Junction Washington 167 north to Puyallup. The mileage sign shows the distance to the next three exits, the first of which is City Center or Junction Interstate 705 and Washington 7. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Shortly thereafter, a roadside sign advises that Interstate 705 serves a visitors center. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The right lane becomes exit only for the connection onto northbound Interstate 705 and southbound Washington 7. Note that this is the first regular guide sign for Interstate 705, and the exit is only one-half mile ahead. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Use northbound Interstate 705 to the Tacoma Dome by following signs to E. 26th Street. The dome comes into view along southbound Interstate 5 as it enters downtown Tacoma. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The Interstate 705 and Washington 7 interchange with Interstate 5 (Exit 133) contains a series of high speed ramps. Connections are afforded via to Washington 7 south to Pacific Avenue as well Interstate 705 north to serve downtown Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Southbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 133, Junction Interstate 705 north and Washington 7 south. Once on the ramp, the first left connects to Washington 7 south, followed by the ramp to East 26th Street. Washington 7 travels south along a freeway spur, then loops onto East 38th Street for the connection to southbound Pacific Avenue. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Now on the ramp from southbound Interstate 5 to northbound Interstate 705 (after Washington 7 splits to the south), the ramp splits again, this time to serve East 26th Street to the Tacoma Dome. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Southbound Washington 509 (South 21st Street)
Now traveling south (west) on Washington 509 (South 21st Street), these signs advise of connections to Interstate 705. This single point urban interchange provides a connection to Interstate 705 south to Interstate 5 and Washington 7 as well as a connection to Interstate 705 north to Schuster Parkway and Ruston. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Northbound Interstate 705
The lanes from southbound Interstate 5 become the primary lanes, with an upcoming merge with lanes from northbound Interstate 5 and northbound Washington 7 (incoming from the right). Photo taken 08/29/06.
After the two sets of lanes merge together, northbound Interstate 705 approaches its first exit: Junction Washington 509 (South 21st Street). A somewhat winding yet heavily traveled route, Washington 509 follows East-West Road east toward the Port of Tacoma by way of the cable stayed bridge over the Thea Foss Waterway. This bridge opened on January 22, 1997, and it features two, 180-foot towers. Parts of the bridge cables are visible to the right of this photo (the whole bridge may be seen in the previous photo). Photo taken 08/29/06.
Northbound Interstate 705 reaches its first exit, Junction Washington 509 (South 21st Street) to the Port of Tacoma. The next exit is a left exit to A Street and downtown Tacoma. From here, Interstate 705 is signed with a control destination of "Schuster Parkway" on the pull-through panel. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Interstate 705 splits here. The left two lanes exit onto the A Street/City Center ramp, while the right lane carries northbound Interstate 705 toward its connection with Schuster Parkway. Lanes from Washington 509 will join northbound Interstate 705 on its way north to Schuster Parkway. Interstate 705 crosses under the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. This a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass offers a connection between downtown Tacoma and the Museum of Glass and the Thea Foss Waterway was built as part of the Interstate 705 project. Photo taken 08/29/06.
A short freeway spur carries traffic from northbound Interstate 705 to A Street/City Center (right lane) and South 15th Street/Pacific Avenue (both lanes). After crossing over the southbound lanes, the spur will separate to make the appropriate connections. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The right lane provides a connection to A Street/City Center, while both lanes connect to South 15th Street/Pacific Avenue. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The ramp transitions directly onto South 15th Street, and the first traffic signal is with Pacific Avenue. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Northern Terminus - 11th Street - downtown Tacoma, Washington
Perspective from Interstate 705 northbound
A northbound Interstate 705 reassurance shield is posted after the Washington 509 interchange, in the shadow of the A Street/City Center offramp. Interstate 705 closely parallels an inlet from Commencement Bay and also a set of railroad tracks. The freeway continues only for a short distance until it merges onto Schuster Parkway. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The Murray Morgan Bridge, which carries 11th Street over a branch of Commencement Bay, comes into view along northbound Interstate 705. Photo taken 08/29/06.
This small guide sign advises that traffic continuing north on Schuster Parkway to Ruston Way should use the left lane, but it does not describe where the right lane goes. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The left lane becomes exit only for Schuster Parkway, while the right lane exits onto Stadium Way. Use Schuster Parkway north and then west along Commencement Bay. It eventually splits into Ruston Way (en route to Ruston and the Washington 163 ferry to Vashon Island) and 30th Street west across Tacoma. Schuster Parkway is an expressway alignment and has limited intersections along its path. After crossing under the Murray Morgan Bridge, the freeway loses its wide right shoulder and becomes much narrower. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Interstate 705 ends as the mainline diverges into two ramps: left for Schuster Parkway, right for Stadium Way. Stadium Way also travels north like Schuster Parkway, but while it initially parallels Schuster Parkway, Stadium Way offers local access to the waterfront neighborhoods. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Now on the ramp to Schuster Parkway, the freeway is only one lane wide, with a deck above for the southbound connection to Interstate 705 as well as the ramp to Stadium Way. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Traffic from northbound Interstate 705 merges onto northbound Schuster Parkway. The expressway has two lanes in each direction and is limited access, with only a few intersections along its route. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Schuster Parkway northbound
The first traffic signal on Schuster Parkway is with South 4th Street, which connects to Dock Street after crossing over the adjacent railroad tracks. Photo taken 08/29/06.
After about a mile, Schuster Parkway splits into Ruston Way (en route to the waterfront, Point Defiance Park, and the ferry to Vashon Island) and North 30th Street (to Old Town and truck alternate route) into residential Tacoma. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Schuster Parkway southbound
This sign is located on the approach heading southbound on the Schuster Parkway that reads "Interstate 705 South/Jct Interstate 5 Left Lane," which is the first (and few) real indications that Interstate 705 exists. Photo taken by Jonathan Ledbetter, 02/03.
This picture is of the actual split of Schuster Parkway, with the left lane leading onto southbound Interstate 705 (hence the Freeway Entrance sign) and the right lane leading onto Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. Photo taken 08/29/06.
Perspective from Interstate 705 southbound
Now at the freeway entrance, Interstate 705 south begins. The freeway has a brief multiple deck structure, so that traffic can connect to Stadium Way as well as Schuster Parkway to and from the northern end of Interstate 705. Photo taken 08/29/06.
The ramp from southbound Schuster Parkway to southbound Interstate 705 passes through this narrow alley before merging with incoming traffic from Stadium Way. Photo taken 08/29/06.
After merging with traffic from Stadium Way, southbound Interstate 705 enters a brief cut and cover tunnel segment. Fireman's Park sits on top of the cut and cover tunnel, providing additional green space and views for Tacoma residents and visitors. Photo taken 08/29/06.
After the cut and cover tunnel, southbound Interstate 705 next passes under the Murray Morgan Bridge (11th Street). Downtown Tacoma sits to the west of the freeway. Note that the northbound lanes are on a lower grade than the southbound lanes along this stretch. A lone Interstate 705 south shield is posted after the Murray Morgan Bridge overpass. After that, Interstate 705 prepares to meet Interstate 5. Photo taken 08/29/06.