Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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$1.7 million awarded for Northeast 68th Street sidewalk

Hazel Dell projects, others selected to receive federal funds

By , Columbian staff reporter

Clark County’s plans to build a sidewalk along Northeast 68th Street in Hazel Dell have received a $1.7 million boost from the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council.

The council’s board of directors earlier this month selected the project, plus another proposed sidewalk improvement in Hazel Dell and a third project in Skamania County, to receive funds through the federal transportation alternatives program.

Building a sidewalk on Northeast 68th Street has been a longtime priority for area residents and the Northeast Hazel Dell Neighborhood Association.

Only a few sections of sidewalk exist on the street, from Northeast Highway 99 to Northeast St. Johns Road. Along portions of the street, there isn’t even a narrow shoulder that pedestrians can use.

About 3,300 vehicles a day use this section of Northeast 68th Street. The road has a posted 35 mph speed limit, but nearly 400 vehicles a day speed through the corridor at more than 45 mph.

According to Clark County, there have been 19 reported crashes along the street section in the past 10 years. Vehicles hitting roadside objects accounted for 10 of those crashes.

Most of the street section is in unincorporated Hazel Dell, although a portion west of Northeast St. Johns Road is inside the Vancouver city limits.

The county and city will partner on the project, with the county building missing sidewalk segments for about 5,500 feet on the south side of the road and the city making street improvements for about 1,400 feet. Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2021.

Estimated project costs are $3 million for the county and $1.5 million for the city. Clark County previously was awarded $150,000 in federal funds to help pay for design. The Clark County Council also allocated real estate excise taxes, which are collected when property sells, to project design.

Susan Wilson, programming section supervisor for Clark County Public Works, said the county still has more than a $1 million shortfall to build the project.

The county has applied for a $1 million grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, which is administered through the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, and intends to seek state grants to fill the funding gap, Wilson said.

Besides building missing sidewalk sections, the county intends to add crosswalks at Northeast 14th, 17th and 28th avenues and at the entrance to 20-acre Hazel Dell Community Park, along with installing street lighting and pedestrian warning signs at each crosswalk.

The county may install a rapid-flashing pedestrian beacon at the Northeast 14th Avenue crosswalk, where there is limited sight distance because of a hill.

The transportation council’s board of directors also awarded $79,600 to help design pedestrian and bicycle movements on Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue, from Northeast 99th Street to Northeast 117th Street. Improvements include building missing and damaged sidewalk sections, providing disabled-accessible sidewalk curb ramps, adding bicycle lanes and relocating a mid-block pedestrian crossing.

The third project, which will receive $575,400, is for pedestrian amenities and overlook on Southeast First Street in Stevenson.