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News / Clark County News

Highway 500 bicycle-pedestrian crossing among Clark County projects to benefit from fed’s infrastructure money

Officials hope the I-5 Bridge replacement project be the next to benefit

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: November 17, 2023, 6:03am
2 Photos
The Highway 500, Northeast 42nd and 54th intersection improvement project has been in the works since 2018 when the Washington State Department of Transportation removed traffic signals from Highway 500, replacing the intersections on Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road with right in/right out interchanges.
The Highway 500, Northeast 42nd and 54th intersection improvement project has been in the works since 2018 when the Washington State Department of Transportation removed traffic signals from Highway 500, replacing the intersections on Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road with right in/right out interchanges. (Photos by Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

It’s been two years since the signing of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, and so far Washington has received $5.3 billion for 1,200 road, bridge, transit and climate resilience projects, a chunk of which is in Clark County.

“The infrastructure law continues to give Washington’s growing economy a big boost,” said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. We “have kick-started much-needed improvements to our roads, bridges, and transit lines to help move Washington’s products and people faster and more safely.”

Here are three projects in Clark County to receive funding from the bill.

Highway 500, Northeast 42nd and 54th intersection improvements

Nearly all of the funds for the $8.7 million bicycle-pedestrian overcrossing project come from the infrastructure law.

The project has been in the works since 2018, when the Washington State Department of Transportation removed traffic signals from Highway 500, replacing the intersections on Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road with right in/right out interchanges.

The two intersections were the only sets of traffic signals in the middle of a 6-mile corridor that was otherwise built to freeway standards and caused an inordinate number of rear-end collisions when drivers were caught off guard by red lights.

The project returns bicycle and pedestrian access across the corridor by creating an overcrossing. Currently, WSDOT officials are getting permits and hope to begin construction on the project in March.

Washougal 32nd Street Underpass Project

The 32nd Street Underpass Project in Washougal is one of the projects to receive the most money and attention in Washington.

The project will eliminate the intersection between 32nd Street and the BNSF Railway line by rerouting the road below it. It will also include dedicated bike and pedestrian space. It has an estimated price tag of $50 million, $40.48 million of which was from a grant created by the infrastructure law.

In July, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke near the crossing and touted the federal investment in the project.

Bus rapid transit on Mill Plain

C-Tran’s second bus rapid transit line, The Vine on Mill Plain, which opened in late September, received $3.3 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law. In total, $30 million of the project’s $50 million estimated price tag was federally funded.

The project finished two months ahead of schedule and a couple of million dollars under its $50 million budget.

Up next

Arguably the region’s most notable project, however, has yet to receive significant money from the infrastructure law.

The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program recently applied for a federal grant created by the bipartisan infrastructure law and is preparing to apply for a second. Between the two, replacement program officials are asking for $1.8 billion.

Community Funded Journalism logo

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