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Sunday, February 25, 2024
Feb. 25, 2024

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Ridgefield looking for a link: Officials in rapidly growing city seek additional connection to Interstate 5

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

As Ridgefield, the state’s fastest-growing city since 2010, continues to urbanize — with more homes, a Costco, an industrial project and possibly an In-N-Out Burger on the way — city officials are seeking an additional route to Interstate 5.

The city’s only direct connection to I-5 is via Pioneer Street, the city’s main road. The intersection can be clogged to the point that drivers will exit I-5 at the 179th Street interchange, which is also often congested, and head north to Ridgefield.

To accommodate the growth, city officials are working to create a new connection with Interstate 5 at the existing Northeast 219th Street interchange at Exit 11, which currently extends only east toward Battle Ground.

“We’ve got three connections worth of traffic trying to use those two connections,” Ridgefield Public Works Director Chuck Green said.

City officials have eyed a new connection since 2007. A 2019 Washington State Department of Transportation planning grant underwrote a study of potential routes. The next steps are the environmental and design phase, for which city officials sought but failed to secure $5 million in funding from the Legislature last session. City officials plan to try again in future legislative sessions.

Because the connection will be in both city and county jurisdiction, elected officials from both entities met Nov. 29 to discuss the project.

Options

Officials are considering seven potential routes for the connection, most of which take off from the 219th Street overcrossing and continue west for approximately 1½ miles to connect with Hillhurst Road or Northwest 31st Avenue, which becomes Hillhurst Road after it crosses Williams Road heading north toward Ridgefield. Estimated cost for the routes ranges between $50 million and $62 million.

“They either go north, south or west to avoid some property impacts,” Green said. “That’s why you see some of those alignments in different locations, but essentially, their termini is at the same place.”

The one exception is an option that would head north and connect with Northwest Carty Road, which would then ferry drivers west. That version of the project would dovetail with a separate planned upgrade to Carty Road estimated to cost between $90 million and $100 million, with $40 million to $45 million for the route itself and an additional $50 million to $55 million for Northwest Carty Road upgrades.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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