State plans new interstate access at N.E. 18th St.

$94 million project to install two ramps aimed at reducing congestion along I-205 corridor

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

 

Public meeting

What: Open house meeting on Interstate 205 interchange project at Northeast 18th Street.

When:4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12. Formal access hearing follows at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Washington State Department of Transportation region headquarters, 11018 N.E. 51st Circle in Vancouver.

Can’t attend? Public testimony can also be sent to swvanc@wsdot.wa.gov, or the WSDOT Vancouver Area Engineering Office at P.O. Box 1709, Vancouver, WA 98668.

State transportation officials are finalizing plans that will add a new interchange to the Interstate 205 corridor in Vancouver.

The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to build two new ramps connecting I-205 with Northeast 18th Street: An off-ramp sending northbound drivers directly from the freeway to 18th, and an on-ramp allowing access from 18th to I-205 southbound.

The $94 million project, funded by state gas tax funds, dovetails with another job that crews finished in early 2010. That project built a new interchange tying together I-205, Mill Plain Boulevard and Northeast 112th Avenue. Both efforts aim to smooth out a crowded -- and growing -- corridor, said WSDOT spokeswoman Magan Reed.

“The main goal is to alleviate some of the terrible congestion that we get on the Mill Plain exit during commute hours,” Reed said. “It can get pretty backed up.”

Planners are still finalizing designs for the new ramps at Northeast 18th Street, Reed said. Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2014.

In the meantime, WSDOT is reaching out to drivers and property owners, Reed said. The agency will host an April 12 open house meeting at its Southwest Region headquarters in Vancouver, allowing visitors to chat with project staff and see project displays. A formal access hearing will follow, when WSDOT will present proposed access plans and take testimony from property owners.

The stretch of I-205 near Mill Plain sees an average of more than 100,000 drivers daily, according to WSDOT, and an increasing number of collisions during commute hours. The area may have been overshadowed by several other large construction projects underway in Clark County, particularly with the first phase finished two years ago. But the congested corridor remains a priority for WSDOT planners, Reed said.

“This project has kind of been off people’s radars,” she said.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro;eric.florip@columbian.com.