Battle Ground residents using a half-mile stretch of Eaton Boulevard between Southwest 20th Avenue and Highway 503 had their first chance to look at the city’s planned improvements for the roadway at an open house held Tuesday.
Although this was the first public meeting, Alisha Smith, communications manager for the city, said the project has been on the city’s list for several years.
“The Southwest Eaton Boulevard Project was first identified in mid-2017 to be upgraded to meet the city’s transportation standards. Staff began seeking project funding at that time,” Smith said.
The total cost for the project is estimated at a little more than $5.9 million. The majority, $4.7 million, will come from city funds. The remaining $1.2 million will come from federal funds through a surface transportation block grant.
In June 2019, the city council approved an agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation authorizing staff to begin the design phase of the project.
According to project manager Teague Sizemore, the project calls for Eaton Boulevard to be widened to three lanes, with bike lanes and sidewalks to be added on the north and south sides. A turn signal will be added to the intersection of Southwest 20th Avenue and Southwest Eaton Boulevard, while an eastbound right-turn lane and westbound turn lane will be added to the intersection of Highway 503 and Southwest Eaton Boulevard.
“It will look more like a city road and connect to all the other city roads here,” Sizemore said.
He added that the work isn’t just about aesthetics, but is needed to make it safer for cars, pedestrians and cyclists. The project will also improve traffic flow and capacity.
Eaton Boulevard has been the site of two fatal car crashes in the past year. On June 13, one person was killed and four were hospitalized after a crash at Southwest 20th Avenue. A 17-year-old boy was killed in a July 2021 crash at the intersection with Southeast 23rd Avenue.
Sizemore said 60 percent of the project design is complete, putting it within the city’s project timeline. Design and engineering was expected to be complete by early to mid-2023, with construction beginning in the second half of the year. But that schedule may slip.
“It will more likely be 2024 at some point, most likely summer,” Sizemore said.
Construction for the project will take about 18 months.
Unlike on other streets, the plan calls for the bike lanes to be separated from the roadway by a 5-foot planting strip with landscaping. Another planting strip with landscaping will be placed in the center lane unless there are turn lanes. Public Works staff said this design not only makes the road safer for cyclists; it also makes the road look narrower, which could reduce speeding.
With some wetlands in the area, the project will need to undergo federal and state environmental review. Stormwater design challenges include locating a storm pond, water-quality and conveyance system depth, and the presence of shallow groundwater, among other issues.
For more information, visit www.cityofbg.org/848/SW-Eaton-Boulevard-Improvements.