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News / Clark County News

Camas official seeks consensus on Everett Street Corridor project as plan aims to boost safety for cyclists, pedestrians, drivers

By Kelly Moyer, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: January 5, 2024, 6:01am
2 Photos
An illustration shows the preferred alternative for the Everett Street Corridor improvement project presented to Camas officials Dec. 20. The plan calls for elevated bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of state Highway 500 that runs from just north of the Lake Road-Everett Street roundabout to the city&rsquo;s northern limits near Northeast Third Street.
An illustration shows the preferred alternative for the Everett Street Corridor improvement project presented to Camas officials Dec. 20. The plan calls for elevated bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of state Highway 500 that runs from just north of the Lake Road-Everett Street roundabout to the city’s northern limits near Northeast Third Street. (city of Camas) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — A month after Camas residents packed the Camas City Council’s Nov. 20 workshop, city officials were at it again to discuss the Everett Street Corridor improvement project and next steps on the $45 million project.

“We’ve got a lot of public comment on this, and this is our fourth presentation to council,” Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall told city officials during a special meeting Dec. 20.

The special meeting did not include a public comment period. Instead, Wall said, the special meeting was meant to continue the discussion city officials started during the Nov. 20 workshop and to explain the “preferred alternative” design that city staff and consultants were recommending for the 1.5-mile, two-lane corridor of state Highway 500. The route leads from the Lake Road-Everett Street roundabout to the city’s northern limits near Northeast Third Street and connects much of Camas to recreational points along Lacamas and Round lakes, and leads to the city’s North Shore area, Camas High School and a cluster of small businesses.

“This is a long-term project and process,” Wall told the council. “We’re asking council to consider options for intersection control — there are signals and roundabout options and we can talk about the pros and cons for each — but this is something we want to get some concurrence on to move forward with that decision.”

Wall said staff and consultants came up with their preferred alternative for the Everett Street Corridor after significant public outreach that included meetings with business owners, a technical advisory committee, Washington State Department of Transportation staff, property owners living near the corridor and open houses and surveys for the general public.

“We gave multiple opportunities for people to get involved and have input,” Wall said.

Some of the common themes included sidewalks; providing safe options for drivers as well as bicyclists and pedestrians; and allowing emergency vehicles to safely travel through the corridor.

Due to the fact that the Everett Street Corridor is a state highway, the preferred option had to not only meet the city’s standards but also adhere to WSDOT’s requirements, Wall said.

One of the state’s requirements is that it meets Washington’s “Complete Streets” law, which requires all state transportation projects that cost at least $500,000 to “provide street access with all users in mind, including pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation users.”

The preferred alternative Wall presented to city officials in December includes two 14-foot traffic lanes with a raised divider in the middle that emergency vehicles can straddle, elevated, 5-foot bicycle lanes, a 5-foot planter strip and a 7-foot sidewalk on each side of the road.

The plan also would include intersection improvements using either small roundabouts or traffic signals.

WSDOT requires officials to consider roundabouts first when improving traffic corridors, Wall said.

“If we said stop lights are preferred, would we have a problem?” Camas Councilman John Nohr asked.

“There is a way to get there, but the preferred alternative from WSDOT’s perspective is roundabouts,” Wall said.

City staff have estimated the entire corridor improvement project will cost $45 million. Wall said that even if there are no funding delays, the entire corridor remodel will take at least 20 years to complete. It will need to be done in segments, with the first segment (35th to 43rd avenues) not completed until the early 2030s; a bridge replacement for the intersection of Lacamas and Round lakes completed in the late 2030s; and the final segments (43rd Avenue to Everett Drive and Everett Drive to the city’s northern limits) not being completed until the mid-2040s and early 2050s, respectively.

“We don’t have the money in hand to move forward with design and construction, so we know there’s going to be some time here before we make improvements,” Wall said. “At the same time, traffic will continue to get worse and we’ll still have comments about, ‘Why can’t I walk down the road safely?’ The longer we wait, the worse it’s going to get.”

Business impacts

In November, 19 out of 20 speakers at the council workshop were concerned about impacts to businesses, including Acorn & the Oak, which already have limited parking.

“If you take our parking lot, we don’t have a place for our food distributors to even bring us food,” said Chuck Stoltz, co-owner of the restaurant that sits along Lacamas Lake in the former Lakeside Chalet building. “I’m not saying nix the project, but think about who it’s affecting.”

“We don’t want these impacts either,” Wall said. “That’s not what we want. We don’t want to put anybody out of business. That’s not our goal.”

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Wall said city staff are recommending that the city figure out additional parking.

“We have the ability to be creative and flexible in what we do,” he said.

To learn more about the Everett Street Corridor Analysis, visit engagecamas.com/everett-street-corridor-analysis.

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