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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Vancouver considers plan to improve Fourth Plain safety by narrowing lanes

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 1, 2023, 6:03am

A plan to make one of Vancouver’s most crash-prone corridors safer by repurposing existing roads was presented to the Vancouver City Council in a workshop Monday.

With over 300 crashes occurring on Fourth Plain Boulevard from 2018 to 2020, to make the road safer for all users, city staff recommended restriping the critical east-west corridor to remove and reduce the width of travel lanes to create bike, transit and right-turn lanes.

The restriping is part of the Fourth Plain and Fort Vancouver Way Safety and Mobility Project, which is broken up into two phases. Phase 1, taking place this summer, will be from F Street to Fort Vancouver Way and Fort Vancouver Way from Fourth Plain to Mill Plain Boulevard. Phase 2 involves restriping Fourth Plain Boulevard from Fort Vancouver Way to Andresen Road.

Fourth Plain Boulevard is Vancouver’s International District and home to C-Tran’s only bus rapid transit service, The Vine — although a line on Mill Plain is under construction and another on Highway 99 is planned.

It was the last workshop before the council will vote whether to approve it and move the project into the design phase.

Recommendations

Because parts of Fourth Plain Boulevard, specifically near Andresen Road, are narrower than others, staff did not have a uniform approach to the project area.

A buffered bike lane starting at Fort Vancouver Way will turn into a striped bike lane at General Anderson Avenue before ending at 62nd Avenue.

The bike lanes end in part because the east end of Fourth Plain Boulevard is narrower, with higher traffic volumes; if a second vehicle lane was removed, it would likely violate a city ordinance requiring a minimum level of traffic flow of around 12 mph on Fourth Plain Boulevard, said Kate Drennan, principal transportation planner for Vancouver.

Because a bike lane will not connect with Andresen Road, staff proposed that Northeast Stapleton Road be restriped to add bike lanes between Fourth Plain Boulevard and Northeast 18th Street, where there are existing bike lanes. Tentative plans for Stapleton Road do not include the removal of parking spaces.

“This is the least worst alternative,” Mayor Pro Tem Ty Stober said. “The reality is we need to improve 18th for multi-modal use.”

It was also recommended that westbound Fourth Plain Boulevard have a transit and right-turn lane from Stapleton Road to General Anderson Avenue and then again from Falk Road to Fort Vancouver Way. It recommended that configuration on eastbound Fourth Plain from Falk Road to Northeast 62nd Avenue, as well.

Additionally, vehicle lanes will be narrowed to reduce speeds, the plan said.

A street mural is planned for the intersection of Fourth Plain and Falk Road to calm traffic, highlight the location of the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail crossing it and recognize the International District.

“(We saw) a real desire for place making investment in this corridor,” said Drennan, “things that really celebrate the culture and International District along Fourth Plain make people realize they’re in a special place as well as do things to help calm traffic.”

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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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Columbian staff writer