Today marks the opening of both an environmental hearing and informational open house on the $495 million Interstate 5 Mounts Road to Thorne Lane Interchange – Corridor Improvements project, an effort to ease congestions near Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Tacoma.

As drivers on I-5 already deal with choke points from Everett south through Seattle to Tacoma, recent years have added another issue in the JBLM region, largely due to an increase in new residential neighborhoods, new businesses and growth at the military base.

The main project to improve the corridor as part of a larger 10-year Connecting Washington transportation revenue package funded by the Washington State Legislature in July 2015 includes adding one northbound lane from Mounts Road to Thorne Lane; adding one southbound lane from Thorne Lane to Steilacoom-DuPont Road; rebuilding three interchanges using roundabouts at Thorne Lane, Berkeley Street and Steilacoom-DuPont Road; building a new local connector road between Gravelly Lake Drive and Thorne Lane; building a bicycle/pedestrian path along the I-5 corridor; and building a new DuPont Gate to JBLM at the new Steilacoom-DuPont Road interchange.

A separate project, set to commence in spring 2017, will extend the existing northbound I-5 auxiliary lane from Center Drive to Steilacoom-DuPont Road south by 1.5 miles to Mounts Road near DuPont.

As Washington State Dept. of Transportation officials move forward on the congestion relief project their next order of business will be the open house and hearing from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, at the McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood. Public comment on the environmental review is also open online through Nov. 22.

As plans continue on this plan for congestion relief, I-5 commuters want to see more options throughout the region.

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb