Update: Tuesday night’s traffic shift on southbound I-5 in Centralia has been cancelled due to inclement weather. It will be rescheduled when weather improves.
CENTRALIA – Construction crews widening Interstate 5 in Centralia will make room for building a new bridge over Reynolds Avenue by shifting and narrowing the southbound lanes Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Crews start the complicated process of shifting live traffic at 7 p.m. Tuesday. All southbound lanes will be shifted by 6 a.m. Wednesday. The speed limit for both directions of I-5 will also be reduced from 60 mph to 50 mph.
“Southbound I-5 will still be two lanes once we shift them over, but there won’t be quite as much wiggle room as before,” said Washington State Department of Transportation Project Engineer Colin Newell. “So, while traffic is shifted, we’re going to slow things down a bit to help keep drivers safe.”
Shifting southbound I-5 is a big step towards construction of a new, wider northbound I-5 bridge over Reynolds Avenue. By early next year, crews will shift the northbound I-5 lanes and begin demolishing the existing bridges.
At three lanes and 58 feet wide, the new northbound I-5 bridge over Reynolds Avenue will be one lane and 22 feet wider than the existing bridge.
WSDOT contractor Cascade Bridge LLC built the new southbound I-5 bridge over Reynolds Avenue during the first phase of the I-5 Mellen Street to Blakeslee Junction project. The first phase was completed earlier this year.
Scarsella Brothers is building the current, final phase of the project, scheduled for completion in late 2015.
Shifting traffic on I-5 is weather dependent and may be rescheduled in the event of inclement weather.
WSDOT is overhauling four miles of I-5 in Centralia. The I-5 Mellen Street to Blakeslee Junction project constructs new collector-distributor lanes, a couplet system at Mellen Street, safety improvements north of Blakeslee Junction, congestion relief at the Mellen Street and Harrison Avenue interchanges, and a new local travel option via the Louisiana Avenue-Airport Road connection.
The project is the last in an eight-year-long, $168 million effort to improve safety and congestion on I-5 in Lewis and south Thurston counties.