Camas rounds down options for intersection

Project managers plan to present two roundabout designs to city council on May 6

OPTION 1 | A depiction of roundabout "Option 1," which could be used to replace the traffic signal at the busy intersection of Northeast Lake Road and Northeast Everett Street in Camas. (Illustration courtesy of city of Camas)

A depiction of roundabout "Option 1," which could be used to replace the traffic signal at the busy intersection of Northeast Lake Road and Northeast Everett Street in Camas. (Illustration courtesy of city of Camas)

Nearly finished with their months-long community outreach efforts concerning the redesign of a critical Camas intersection at Northeast Lake Road and Northeast Everett Street, Camas city staff are now preparing to present the Camas City Council with their initial findings.

“We will present to council on May 6, and will look for direction from council on which alternative to proceed with,” said the city’s project manager, Jim Hodges.

The current Lake Road-Everett intersection, located near the city’s Lacamas and Round lakes recreation areas, is controlled by a traffic signal, with northern Everett Street traffic having to wait in an often-busy left turn lane to get onto Northeast Lake Road. As the city grows, Camas engineers say the intersection must be redesigned to accommodate heavier traffic demands.

“The existing, signalized ‘T’ intersection is at or near failure and travelers can experience substantial delays in all directions,” the city states on its website page devoted to the intersection improvements. “This is a critical intersection for the community, connecting the north shore, south shore and downtown Camas and providing access to regional recreation areas at Lacamas Lake and Round Lake. As community and regional growth have increased, so has traffic, causing safety and mobility concerns.”

City leaders hope an intersection redesign will reduce traffic congestion and improve safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. They also hope the new design will allow for better pedestrian access to the nearby Lacamas and Round lakes recreational areas.

Hodges said city staff started with six options, including three roundabout designs and three traffic signal options. The city has whittled the options down to two roundabout designs known as “Option 1” and “Option 2.”

“The public input we had weighed heavily toward roundabout ‘Option 1,” Hodges said.

Not only is the “Option 1” roundabout the least expensive of the designs, as the city already owns the property on the east side of Northeast Everett Street where the bulk of the roundabout would be constructed, Hodges said, but it also would save an endangered American chestnut tree on the site.

Other factors also make “Option 1” the more appealing of the two designs, Hodges said.

“The construction of most of (Option 1) can occur without affecting the existing traffic flow through the intersection, so the construction duration is significantly reduced and the impact to motorists will be decreased,” Hodges told the Post-Record on Monday. “Similarly, (Option 1) had fewer impacts to other public and privately owned properties in the area … and had fewer environmental impacts, including (to the nearby) wetlands.”

Drawbacks of the Option 1 roundabout include the fact that the design would move the northbound traffic much closer to Round Lake park, Hodges said.

From December 2018 through mid-April, the city offered the public several chances to weigh in on the initial improvement plans for the intersection, posting a physical sign at the site, sending invitations to two public open houses to all Camas residents, publicizing the event in the Post-Record and on the city’s website and social media pages and hosting two online surveys.

“The public outreach for this project has been quite a bit more involved than anything we’ve done before,” Hodges said. “It was very important to us and to the council that we gathered a lot of information and got a lot of input.”

Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall said the first open house attracted about 120 people and the second had another 90 to 100 concerned citizens show up.

The first survey garnered about 1,100 responses and city staff are still collecting responses from the second online survey, which closed on April 20.

After getting city councilors’ feedback on the roundabout options, city staff hope to begin the design portion of the intersection improvement project.

“We do not have construction funding solidified, but we do have design funding in place,” Hodges said, adding that he expects to return to council to discuss construction funding for the project “later this year.”

To learn more about the intersection improvement plans, view the two roundabout options and see the criteria city staff used to come up with those options, visit cityofcamas.us/lakeroad.

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