As the oldest road in Clark County, Southeast Evergreen Highway in Vancouver is long overdue for a pedestrian walkway, residents say.
By early October, they’ll get their wish — in part.
This week, construction began on nearly a half-mile-long stretch of walkway extending along the nearly century-old highway from Southeast Ellsworth Road to Southeast 100th Court. Built of pervious concrete to let rain filter through, the $646,000 walkway will be mostly 8 feet wide. In some places, it will narrow to 6 feet to preserve mature fir trees along the bumpy, two-lane road lined with old homes behind stone walls and iron gates.
This is the second phase of the five-phase Evergreen Highway walkway project. The first phase, from Ellsworth Road to the Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center at 12208 S.E. Evergreen Highway, was finished in 2001. Funded by a federal transportation enhancement grant, the current phase is being built by Halme Excavating of Battle Ground, the lowest bidder on the city project.
For 30 years, neighbors and different committees have been clamoring for a pedestrian walkway, said Chris Kellogg, co-chair of the Old Evergreen Highway Neighborhood Association, which has been working on the project with the East Old Evergreen Highway Neighborhood Association.
“For so long, all you would hear is, ‘there’s no money.’ Or, ‘that’s a good idea, we’ll work on that and get back to you,’ ” Kellogg, 55, said Wednesday. “The neighbors were getting pretty frustrated because we pay one of the highest tax bases in the county. … The fact that you can go anywhere else in the city and county and have sidewalks just didn’t make sense to us.”
Stormwater regulations have gotten stricter in the 14 years since the 2001 segment was built, and the design requirements are different now. In addition to a pervious concrete surface, a 2-foot-wide gravel strip will be installed between the roadway and walkway to catch street drainage runoff.
Here are the remaining phases for the trail, which eventually will run from Southeast Chelsea Avenue to Southeast 164th Avenue:
• Chelsea Avenue to Weber Arboretum: Design phase expected to begin this summer, funded by grants.
• Weber Arboretum to 100th Court: Preliminary design finished; city looking for grant money for rights-of-way acquisition and construction.
• Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center to Southeast 164th Avenue: Private fundraising efforts in progress to pay for design.
“The completion of this entire trail alongside Old Evergreen Highway with its connectivity to the waterfront trail and downtown will be a great asset for Vancouver,” Dode Jackson, co-chair of the Old Evergreen Highway Neighborhood Association, said in an email Tuesday.
Kellogg said the neighborhood associations have raised up to $180,000 in private dollars so far for the walkway’s final phase, which he hopes will be built in three to five years.
“Private involvement contributing to the cause certainly helps bring all of this kind of stuff to fruition,” he said. “Without the neighborhood associations, this never would have happened. No doubt about that.”