Submitted by Washington State Department of Transportation
After collecting input from community members and partnering with local governments during an online open house conducted in June 2020, the Washington State Department of Transportation has selected preferred design options to help improve safety and trip reliability for all people who use Interstate 5 between Chehalis and Centralia, in Lewis County.
The following future design options were chosen:
- Widening a section of southbound I-5 between Chamber Way and SR 6
- Installing ramp meters at several on-ramps to I-5 from 13th Street to Harrison Avenue
- Building roundabouts at the interchanges of I-5 at Chamber Way and I-5 at State Route 6
Once constructed, these improvements will provide people with more reliable travel by reducing congestion, improving safety and reducing travel times.
“With a total of 1,146 crashes within the study area between 2014 and 2018, we believe it is our responsibility to do something to improve safety,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Colin Newell. “This series of projects will help improve safety by reducing congestion-related crashes and improve mobility for all travelers throughout this important corridor.”
During peak travel times, traffic merging to and exiting from I-5 between the freeway interchanges at Chamber Way and SR 6 experience heavy congestion and significant delays that increase the potential for crashes. With growth and development expected to increase in this area, traffic backups and congestion-related crashes will continue if no changes or improvements are made.
Timelines for the combination of improvements vary based on the amount of engineering work, right of way and environmental permitting needed for each. To make the most of available funds and implement improvements as quickly as possible, the improvements will be constructed in phases.
Evaluation of traffic data and future modeling shows that installing ramp meters at the on-ramps to I-5 is an effective way to improve safety and mobility along the corridor and can be implemented fairly quickly. Construction of ramp meters at 13th Street, SR 6, Chamber Way, Mellen Street and the southbound Harrison Avenue ramp could begin as early as 2023.
This $72.5 million project is part of the Connecting Washington program, which invests funds in this state’s multimodal transportation system.
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