A $7.5 million project to expand Pioneer Street in the Ridgefield Junction area could create roughly 8,600 jobs and attract $585 million in private-sector investment over the next 20 years, according to city and federal officials.
The project will create a new section of road leading to a new roundabout roughly 1,000 feet east of the current roundabout at Pioneer Street and South 65th Avenue. The new roundabout will also connect to a new road that leads south to South Fifth Street.
The roundabout and new roads will offer a direct connection to Interstate 5 from the Union Ridge Business Park and the new Clark College satellite campus. It will also open 640 acres of developable land.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, announced on Sept. 10 that she had secured $5.8 million in grant funding for the project from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Ridgefield is one of our state’s fastest-growing cities and we need infrastructure that can match this growth and allow more employment opportunities to come here, too,” Herrera Beutler said in a news release.
The city had been seeking the funds for three years, Ridgefield Public Works Director Bryan Kast said. City officials credited Herrera Beutler’s advocacy.
“Their help in securing these critical federal dollars was so important to our success,” Mayor Don Stose said. “The project will be a boon for our region for decades to come.”
The other $1.7 million will come from development fees, Kast said. A complete design is expected in 2021, and project bids could be solicited by early 2022.
Road construction related to other developments is already underway east of South 65th Avenue and north of South Fifth Street. When finished, the project will connect the two new segments of roads already under construction.
Surrounding roads in the area are failing due to heavy truck traffic, according to the city. The intersection of South 65th Avenue and South Fifth Street, which is narrow and not built to accommodate commercial traffic, forces truck drivers to use part of the oncoming lane when turning.
“It’s sort of a challenge for those businesses to access the freeway,” Kast said. “This will help provide a safe and large enough route for commercial businesses to access the freeway from the east side.”
The city also plans to work with the Port of Ridgefield to lay dark fiber conduit in the area, allowing for more access to broadband for future business tenants.
Wholesale trade and manufacturing account for more than 30 percent of businesses in the junction area, according to the city. Businesses include United Natural Foods, Pacific Power Group, Dollar Tree, Elkhart Plastics and Corwin Beverage Co.
City officials also said local jobs generated by the project will cut commute times for Clark County’s labor force, about one-third of which currently commutes to Portland. In Ridgefield, just over 6 percent of residents work within city limits.
When asked about the significance of the project, Kast, while acknowledging that it’s smaller, compared it to the $20 million Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex that opened last year.
“It’s definitely one of the bigger ones, especially in the last few years,” Kast said.