What's Up with That? Reader concern spurs city into action on 34th Street

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

Northeast 34th Street from 151st Avenue to 162nd Avenue has several sections of road that are not paved. Near accidents have occurred when the paved road narrows and autos pass each other, as there isn’t the normal width of the street in these areas. This area is truly a traffic hazard!

If a motorcyclist was unfamiliar with 34th Street eastbound as it approaches the intersection of 162nd Avenue, and hit the deep pot holes in the unpaved area there, the rider could easily lose control and fall down or even be killed. The hundreds of cars that pass along … are at constant risk of accident due to the condition of the road.

— Ruthie Westlund

Ruthie, your observation got the city moving.

According to Loretta Callahan, Vancouver’s public works spokeswoman, a city staffer visited the spot and discovered that the south-side street striping, where the roadway narrows and you start worrying, has faded.

“Because of this reader’s alert, that is being freshened up with new paint to alert drivers where the pavement edge lies,” she said.

The background to this situation is that the antique street was narrow to begin with, and simply hasn’t been redeveloped to “current urban standards,” Callahan said. “At its narrowest, the street is only about 20 feet wide, or two 10-foot-wide lanes.” In a couple of places, there’s a gravel shoulder — but that shoulder doesn’t show the wear that would indicate it’s getting a whole lot of tires spilling past the narrow pavement, she said.

“There didn’t appear to be potholes in the public right of way,” Callahan said.

She added that the adjacent driveways are concrete and if the street was redeveloped, the concrete work would have to be redone to meet the new pavement. “Such concrete work could be expected to double the cost of paving.”

Older roadways are usually brought up to current urban standards, including to full width with bike lanes, sidewalks and lighting as part of major street improvement projects.

“As it is, current funding for such street improvements are very limited,” Callahan said.