Kicking off the last funded I-5 widening project in Lewis County

By guest blogger Abbi Russell

The future I-5 looking south from
Harrison Avenue (Exit 82), after improvements
 between Mellen Street and
Blakeslee Junction are complete in 2014
In 2006, we started the first project in a series of improvements to I-5 in Lewis and Thurston counties. Six years, 14 miles, and $235 million in investments later, we and our partners broke ground on the last funded project on this stretch of the interstate – I-5, Mellen Street to Blakeslee Junction.
This $155 million project revamps four miles of the I-5 corridor between Chehalis and Centralia. It brings a dizzying array of improvements, including:
  • Adding collector-distributor (CD) lanes on both directions of I-5 between Mellen Street and Harrison Avenue
  • Reconstructing the Mellen Street interchange
  • Widening Harrison Avenue
  • Straightening the I-5 Blakeslee Curve
  • Rehabilitating the Skookumchuck River bridges
  • Connecting Louisiana Avenue and Airport Road on the west side of I-5

Check out our YouTube video to see how all of this comes together, and how your trips through the area will improve.
Some key items to note are the CD lanes and the Mellen Street reconstruction. These have significant impacts on reducing collisions and congestion, as well as improving local connectivity.
CD lanes between Mellen Street and Harrison Avenue will separate local and interstate traffic, eliminating the weaving that happens when drivers merge multiple times between closely spaced interchanges.
The Mellen Street interchange will be rebuilt as a couplet, which includes building a new bridge over I-5 just south of where Mellen Street is today. This bridge will ensure access to Centralia Providence Hospital and the Chehalis-Centralia Airport in the event of a flood.
Construction on the first stage of this project starts in mid-June. Crews will keep two lanes open on I-5 during the day, but drivers can expect night time lane closures until Stage 1 is complete in spring/summer 2013.
Stage 2 is set for construction in summer 2013, and the entire project is scheduled for completion in late 2014.
Stay in the know by signing up for project email updates. You can also visit our travel alerts and construction update Web pages.