Phase of Battle Ground congestion-relief work wrapping up

Motorists at intersection of highways 502, 503 to see change in traffic flow

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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BATTLE GROUND — Battle Ground’s population is around 20,000, but more than double that figure travel through the city on a typical weekday.

According to the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council’s list of high-volume intersections in the county, the intersection of state Highway 502 and state Highway 503 receives about 50,000 travelers on an average weekday.

The first phase of the city’s Congestion Relief Project is expected to mostly wrap up this week, which will change the flow of traffic in the area.

The project will extend Northwest Fifth Way, just north of Fred Meyer, east to connect to Highway 503, giving the shopping 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 Street will be extended so drivers can’t make a left turn from Main onto 12th.

The entire project will cost $7.7 million, which will be entirely funded by the state’s Connecting Washington program. The first phase will cost around $1.2 million, according to Bonnie Gilberti, spokeswoman for the city.

“These are some big changes for folks, but it should make things easier,” she said.

On Friday, crews were out placing the barrier on Highway 503 between Main Street and Onsdorff Boulevard to ensure drivers can only make a right-in and right-out of the parking lot near Fred Meyer. The extension on Fifth Way is expected to open today, according to Gilberti.

The Washington State Department of Transportation will also close down parts of state Highway 502 starting tonight to remove the traffic light at 12th Avenue.

All eastbound lanes of Highway 502 at the intersection of 12th Avenue will close from 10 p.m. tonight to 2 a.m. Wednesday, and all westbound lanes of Highway 502 at the intersection will close from 2 to 5 a.m. Wednesday for the signal removal. Drivers will have to use alternate routes during the closure.

That traffic light was installed in 1999, around the same time the Fred Meyer opened. The original plan called for the light to be there temporarily, as per an agreement between the city, department of transportation and Fred Meyer. The light was to be removed when the area became backed up too regularly, which Gilberti said started happening a few years ago.

Once the light is removed, there will be a temporary barrier in place to keep drivers from turning left until a median can be built across the centerline.

The second phase of the project, which is planned for 2018-19, will add right-hand turn lanes in each direction at the intersection of the two highways, 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 scheduled for 2020-21, will add a road connecting Highway 503 with North Parkway, just north of Battle Ground High School to help further relieve congestion on Main Street by providing an alternate route.