Summer weather is here, and downtown Vancouver drivers have already begun to adjust a common summer sight: street construction. A three block stretch of Broadway near East Mill Plain Boulevard closed down last week for a sewer project, snarling traffic in the busy corridor.
The full work area for Phase 1 of the Broadway Corridor Improvement Project runs the length of Broadway from East 13th Street north to East McLoughlin Boulevard and includes a small portion of McLoughlin to the east and west of the intersection with Broadway.
Crews began at the southernmost block of the project area and will gradually move north. The main purpose of the project is to repave the road and replace the sewer and water main lines beneath the street, which date back to between 1911 and 1914. Crews will install 1,400 feet of new sewer line and 1,350 feet of new water line. The work is scheduled to wrap up in late summer.
The sewer lines are all at least 10 feet deep, according to public works public information officer Loretta Callahan, so the surrounding street has to be closed for safety reasons while the deep trenches are open.
A planned Phase 2 project will install the same upgrades along Broadway from 13th Street south to Sixth Street next year.
“Originally we were going to do one single project that would go all the way from Sixth Street to McLoughlin,” said public works streets and transportation manager Ryan Lapossa, “but we were concerned about whether we could get that entire project done in a single construction season” due to the likelihood of running into unexpected obstacles such as old utility pipes.
Phase 1 cost approximately $1.4 million, according to Lapossa. Phase 2 doesn’t have a cost estimate yet but will likely be higher because it will involve a longer stretch of Broadway.
Crews started the Phase 1 work at the south end of the project area because that section needs to be finished ahead of an upcoming project from the Washington State Department of Transportation to repave the Mill Plain Boulevard and 15th Street couplet, according to Callahan.
The remainder of Broadway in the Phase 1 work area will be fully repaved at the end of the project once the new sewer and water lines are installed and service is switched over.
The project will also include upgrades to some of the existing curb ramps to meet current ADA requirements, and other portions of the sidewalk will be replaced or repaired. The project will remove approximately 14 trees that are unhealthy or subject to potential damage.
Broadway is closed between 13th and 16th Streets. Mill Plain Boulevard and 15th Street are still open to east-west traffic, although one or two lanes at a time may be closed depending on the time of day.
“They’ve been trying to do most of that construction installation work (across those intersections) at night,” Callahan said.
The closure is expected to continue through approximately May 14, although Callahan said the city is working with contractors to try to reopen the north half of the block later this week between 15th and 16th streets until the sewer work progresses farther north, which would be in about two weeks.
The project has also prompted C-Tran to reroute several bus lines that travel on Broadway through downtown, including the Vine.
All bus stops along Broadway between 12th Street and McLoughlin Boulevard have been temporarily closed and the buses have switched to a detour route along C Street, according to a notice on C-Tran’s website.
There are two temporary stops along the C Street section – one at C Street and 15th Street which is being served by The Vine and Routes 30, 31 and 71, and another at Broadway and Ninth Street that is only served by The Vine.
The westbound 15th and Broadway stop may also periodically close during construction, according to C-Tran. When this happens, riders can use an alternate stop at Washington and 13th Streets for Routes 37, 41 and 105.
The bus stop closures and detours are in place at all hours and are expected to remain in place for approximately two months from the April 12 start date.