How to help
To report ongoing traffic problems in your neighborhood, call the Vancouver police traffic hotline at 360-487-7402.
Greg Martin has lived off West 39th Street in the Lincoln neighborhood for 30 years. He said he and his neighbors have been facing a new problem recently: semi trucks rolling through their neighborhood.
"Trucks are tearing this neighborhood apart," Martin said from his kitchen, which faces the busy arterial. Several semis passed by during an interview with a reporter -- often the trucks could be heard before they could be seen. "It's worse than Fourth Plain now," Martin said of the truck traffic.
The problem dates to the completion of the 39th Street overpass in 2010. The feature directly connects Lincoln with the Fruit Valley neighborhood, crossing above a set of railroad tracks that previously delayed drivers dozens of times each day.
Martin says the overpass now makes 39th Street a convenient shortcut for trucks traveling between the Fruit Valley industrial areas and Interstate 5. The route is more direct than Northeast 78th Street or West Mill Plain Boulevard, he said.
Loretta Callahan, spokeswoman for Vancouver Public Works, said 39th Street has been designated as an arterial for many years, which means it is meant to serve some commercial traffic along with residential vehicles.
"The 39th Street overpass project did not create or change that designation," she said in an e-mail. "The city has no plans to change its designation or prohibit truck traffic."
Martin and two neighbors who recently moved into a nearby house are taking things into their own hands.
The group is distributing signs that say "No semis on 39th" along the street and asking folks to sign a petition to ban tractor-trailers. He hasn't had anyone decline to sign and has been approached by several neighbors who asked for signs to put in their yard.
'Up in arms'
Jenny Brown, chair of the Lincoln neighborhood, said a lot of people are "up in arms" about semis and traffic on 39th Street.
"It's not a Fourth Plain," she said. "It wasn't meant for that. It wasn't built for that and it shouldn't be that."
She said traffic on 39th Street in general is a problem. In the morning and at night the road is jampacked, she said.
Brown and Martin both said that before the overpass was put in, city staff assured the neighborhood that it wouldn't increase truck traffic.
Callahan said project planners did anticipate that the overpass would bring additional traffic to the area.
She said the city has been working to improve 39th Street to address the increase in traffic. The city encourages drivers to use Mill Plain as the main way in and out of the Port of Vancouver and the Fruit Valley industrial area, she said.
Callahan suggests people with concerns about ongoing traffic problems call the Vancouver police traffic hotline at 360-487-7402. VPD Sgt. Pat Johns, who supervises the traffic unit, says it helps if residents have a specific time of day when the issue is common or the license plate of a specific problem vehicle.