LACEY, Wash. — Major construction is underway in the South Sound to create the state's first diverging diamond.
Flashing signs and construction cones line I-5 warning drivers about big changes.
"It's been rough and so it's added at least 10 minutes to our driving time,” said Jessica Scharpf.
Exit 111 in Lacey is where Washington State Department of Transportation is building the state's first diverging diamond interchange. When the project is done, crisscrossing lanes will take drivers to the other side of the road before they enter the overpass, allowing them to get onto the I-5 on-ramp without stopping.
It's a monthslong project. The biggest changes came last week.
Southbound drivers can no longer turn left at Marvin Road. Everyone is sent right then detoured onto Hogum Bay Road and through three roundabouts.
"It's been a week and there’s been a lot of confusion,” said Jose Sanchez.
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Sachez owns Mayan Mexican Restaurant. He sits right off I-5 in the midst of the construction.
"It'll be hard because people don't know how to get here,” he said.
Concrete barrier blocks direct drivers to the detours, but they also block his business.
KIRO 7 visited Sanchez during what's typically the lunch rush. Now, he's struggling to fill seats.
"I'm sorry to get emotional, but it's my passion, it's my business, it's my life,” he said.
Sanchez hopes the tough times pay off when the project's over.
Drivers are optimistic the construction changes will help this booming South Sound community.
"I think it'll be pretty good for everybody. I mean, the traffic prior to was pretty rough, especially getting caught on the overpass there was pretty rough, but I think it'll be fine,” said Kyle Drake.
The current phase of construction is scheduled to be completed in June.
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