CHEHALIS – After 10 weeks of closures, narrow lanes and pedestrian detours, a project to replace a damaged girder on the Chamber Way bridge over Interstate 5 is wrapping up today.
Early this morning, crews with Washington State Department of Transportation contractor Olivas Valdez Inc. finished painting lane stripes on the bridge and opened both lanes to their full width of 12 feet. Since early September, bridge traffic was tight with drivers navigating two, 10-foot-wide lanes.
“Construction work really squeezed everybody this summer and fall, and we appreciate the patience of drivers and local business owners,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Chris Tams. “We’re glad to finish up and get off the bridge before the busy holiday season begins.”
Crews also reopened the bridge sidewalks to pedestrians this morning. Crews removed the sidewalks to keep two lanes of traffic flowing during construction. Pedestrians followed a signed detour around the bridge.
WSDOT widened the south sidewalk on the Chamber Way bridge to 4 feet to help improve pedestrian safety and access to sidewalk with ramps for people with disabilities.
The bridge has a height clearance of 14 feet, 9 inches. Bright yellow signs on the structure indicate its height to alert drivers with over-height loads as they approach the bridge.
Despite the warning signs, trucks with over-height loads have struck the Chamber Way bridge several times over the past few years. Two strikes last fall significantly damaged the girder at the southeast end of the bridge, so WSDOT replaced the girder to maintain the structure’s strength and keep traffic flowing on this important local connection.
WSDOT is installing additional warning signs on I-5 to get drivers’ attention even farther to the north and south. Drivers with over-height loads can use the off- and on-ramps at Chamber Way to avoid crossing underneath the bridge.
The I-5 Chamber Way Girder Replacement project is estimated at $682,000 and funded by the insurance company for the party responsible for damage.