Primary Children's Medical Center is starting an $8 million remodeling and construction project intended to alleviate tight space in its emergency department.

The project, which does not include any additions to the existing buildings, will create a 24-bed rapid treatment unit adjacent to the emergency room for patients who require overnight care.Eight new exam rooms and two new trauma rooms will also be added to the emergency department, and eight beds will be added to the newborn/intensive care unit. All interior construction should be completed by January, said Bill Barnes, director of community relations.

During the winter months, the pediatric center - which services most of Utah and Nevada, Wyoming, southern Idaho and western Montana - operates at nearly 100 percent capacity, Barnes said. And on busy weekends, emergency caretakers often have to put patients with milder cases in the hallway because of space constraints.

The center is also constructing three stories of parking on top of its two-story terrace intended to compensate for space that will be lost when construction begins on the Olympic Village. The additional parking will be completed in a year and will cost about $12 million.