The Chehalis freeway interchange at Interstate 5 and Chamber Way handles a lot of traffic for its compact size, with a mix of local and interstate travelers using the often-congested interchange to connect to nearby retail, industrial and commercial areas.

Beginning tonight, Sept. 9, traffic will get busier and space will get tighter as construction crews narrow the Chamber Way bridge over I-5 to two, 10-foot lanes and prepare to replace a damaged girder.

WSDOT contractor Olivas Valdez Inc. will begin the project by removing sidewalks on the bridge, narrowing lanes and building a work zone using temporary concrete barrier.

Motorists in the area should plan for approximately six weeks of increased congestion and delays while the bridge is in the narrowed configuration. Back-ups may be significantly worse during peak traffic hours and on weekends.

In mid-September, crews plan to remove the damaged girder and install the new, prefabricated girder. These activities will require full nighttime closures of I-5 and Chamber Way, to be announced when they are scheduled. Work is expected to be complete in October.

The I-5, Chamber Way Girder Replacement project replaces a girder damaged by strikes from over-height semi-truck loads. The $682,000 project is funded by the insurance company for the party responsible for damage.