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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Feb. 22, 2024

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Vancouver approves 34th Street plan to reduce section from 4 to 2 lanes, add mobility lane

By , Columbian staff writer
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The city of Vancouver is reducing a stretch of Southeast 34th Street in east Vancouver from four lanes to two and adding a mobility lane on each side to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

On Monday, the Vancouver City Council approved a final design for the project, which focuses on the 1.3-mile stretch of Southeast 34th Street between Southeast 162nd and Southeast 192nd avenues.

“This design incorporates the three goals of the project: to improve mobility for all users, prioritize safety and use low-cost solutions that can be implemented quickly,” the project’s online BeHeard page states.

Southeast 34th Street has four lanes with a median separating the two westbound and two eastbound lanes. This project will replace the two outside lanes with mobility lanes and add a buffer zone to keep a distance between vehicles and pedestrians.

Construction will begin in early 2024 and likely finish by fall, according to city spokesperson Tim Becker.

The new mobility lanes will run along the entire stretch of the corridor, and will be as wide as eight feet in certain areas to allow for passing or side-by-side travel.

To protect cyclists and pedestrians from the mobility lane, the city will add a painted buffer lane between the two, which will range from five to eight feet. Near intersections, there will also be vertical barriers separating the lanes.

Emily Benoit, senior transportation planner for the city, said residents have largely supported the project, citing the safety concerns along the corridor.

“Community members responded that mobility lanes would be beneficial and would need to see it in action,” Benoit said. “While the concerns expressed were about existing safety concerns, like speeding cars, concerns about impacts to driving commutes and impact to neighborhood character — for example, concern about congestion on surrounding neighborhood streets.”

On an online interactive map of the project, many of the public comments focus on speeding and reckless driving.

“Many drivers (especially during rush hour) routinely speed along Southeast 34th Street attempting to beat the traffic signals,” one commenter wrote.

To discourage speeding, crews will reduce the two travel lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet, according to the BeHeard page.

Benoit said cutting the number of lanes in half will not have a significant impact on traffic.

“The traffic analysis indicates that under the opening year (2024) and midterm (2030) scenarios, the project goals can be achieved without substantially increasing travel time for people driving,” Benoit said. In the long term, residents will face increased traffic with or without the project’s impact, according to Benoit.

The repaving project is the latest milestone of the city’s Complete Streets Program, which seeks to make more Vancouver streets accessible and comfortable for all users, regardless of transportation method.

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Columbian staff writer