Battle Ground project seeks to relieve clogged roads

City set to begin multiyear work to improve traffic

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

Published:

 

If You Go

What: There will be an informal open house to go over plans for the first phase of the Congestion Relief Project, which is expected to start in the next few weeks.

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 19.

Where: East entrance of Fred Meyer. 401 N.W. 12th Ave., Battle Ground.

Click to enlarge

BATTLE GROUND — The next major transportation project in Battle Ground is set to kick off in the coming weeks, this one looking to alleviate congestion where the city’s two state highways meet.

The first phase of the multiyear Congestion Relief Project, which could start as soon as July 17, according to Scott Sawyer, the city’s public works director, will focus on three different sections near the intersection of state Highway 503 and state Highway 502. The phase will change the traffic flow a bit in the area, and add an entrance to Fred Meyer, 401 N.W. 12th Ave., Battle Ground.

The project will extend Northwest Fifth Way, just north of the Fred Meyer, east to connect to 503, giving the center an additional right-in and right-out access point. Once that is done, the traffic light at the intersection of Northwest 12th Avenue and West Main Street will be removed, and the median on Main will be extended so drivers can’t make a left-turn from Main onto 12th.

That traffic light was put in place in 1999, around the same time the Fred Meyer opened. It was always designed to be a temporary light, as agreed on by the city, Washington State Department of Transportation and Fred Meyer. The plan called for it to be removed when the area became backed up too regularly. Sawyer said the time has come to remove the light.

“It started becoming an issue a few years ago,” he said. “That’s when we first started talking to the state about it. It was a concern for them.”

The last part of Phase 1 will see an extension of the left-turn lane on Northwest 15th Avenue between Northwest First Avenue and Main, which will help add capacity for vehicles turning east onto Main.

“Right now, the turn lanes can get backed up so far that drivers are in the other lanes,” Sawyer said. “This should give us more stacking room in that area. (Battle Ground) High School is right over there, and on school days, there are so many cars and buses in that area. Hopefully this allows for more traffic to easily pass through.”

The entire Congestion Relief Project will cost an estimated $7.7 million, which will be entirely funded by the state’s Connecting Washington program. This first phase, which is expected to cost about $1 million, is slated to wrap up by early 2018.

The second phase of the project, which is planned for 2018-19, will add right-hand turn lanes at the intersection of 502 and 503, extend the left-turn lane from Main Street to West Eighth Avenue and extend Southwest First Way east to Southwest 12th Avenue.

Phase 3, which is schedule for 2020-21, will add a road to connect 503 with North Parkway, just north of Battle Ground High School. Both Phase 2 and 3 are expected to cost about $3.35 million each.

“This will be a benefit regionally instead of just for the city of Battle Ground,” he said. “It will help everyone coming through.”

South Parkway update

The work coming to 502 and 503 isn’t the only major transportation project going on in Battle Ground. The city’s $5.6 million revamping of South Parkway Avenue started in March after city officials successfully obtained grant funding for the project after trying to do so for more than 12 years.

That project is broken into two parts: from Southeast Rasmussen Boulevard to Southwest Eaton Boulevard and from Southeast Rasmussen to Main Street. Rasmussen to Eaton will see a complete road reconstruction, with new sidewalks, planter strips, bike lanes, lighting, a travel lane in each direction and a center left-turn lane.

The first few inches of roadway on the Rasmussen to Main section will be ground down to make way for a new layer of asphalt. That portion of South Parkway will also get new sidewalk ADA ramps.

Sawyer said construction is on schedule and budget, and that the project should wrap up by November. Paving is scheduled for September.

“That’s the first step of improving connectivity and improving traffic flow,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction. We tried to get grant funding for so long, and I think we wore them down. We just got lucky. We’re ecstatic it’s being completed.”

Adam Littman: 360-735-4518; adam.littman@columbian.com; twitter.com/a_littman