Washougal will try again for 32nd Street underpass funding

City manager seeking $1.52M grant from federal RAISE program to cover design, engineering costs

The city of Washougal's planned 32nd Street underpass project would provide a grade-separated railroad crossing at 32nd Street, new connector streets in the Town Center, road improvements within the Port of Camas-Washougal's industrial park, a roundabout at 32nd and Main streets, a signal at 32nd Street and Evergreen Way, and a sidewalk and multi-use path. (Contributed graphic courtesy of the city of Washougal)

Drivers make their way through the intersection of Evergreen Way and 32nd Street in Washougal on March 31, 2022. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

City of Washougal leaders did not prevail in their quest to secure federal funding for their 32nd Street underpass project in 2021, but are trying again in 2022 and say they have a much better chance of success this time around.

During a virtual meeting on Monday, March 28, city council members approved a resolution that authorizes City Manager David Scott to file an application seeking grant funding for $1,520,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program to offset design and engineering costs associated with the planned reconstruction of 32nd Street from Main Street and “B” Street to “F” Place.

The resolution also indicates that the city will commit $380,000 to complete the project if it acquires the RAISE grant.

“The city of Washougal is eager to improve multi-modal connectivity, enhance safety, reduce idling, and develop green infrastructure along 32nd Street as a way to enhance transportation, economic development and wellbeing for its residents, including (those living in) underserved neighborhoods,” the resolution states.

The city’s application received a “highly recommended” rating and received serious consideration from Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, but ultimately was not selected for the award in 2021, according to Trevor Evers, the city’s director of public works.

Based on that feedback, city leaders believe that “it is prudent to resubmit the application for the 2022 cycle, for which there is increased funding available.”

“We feel like we’re poised to potentially land funding this year,” Evers said during the meeting. “We’ve been working closely with Sustainable Strategies DC — our lobbyists, essentially — to beef up our application, and we feel like we’re poised to potentially be very competitive in this round.”

The project “is one component of a significant multi-component economic development and safety project providing improved access to the Port of Camas-Washougal and the growing Washougal Town Center, a much needed grade separated railroad crossing at 32nd Street, new connector streets in the Town Center and road improvements within the Port’s industrial park” and is in “the early design stages,” according to the city’s website.

The city plans to install a roundabout at 32nd and Main streets; a signal at 32nd Street and Evergreen Way; a free, non-stopping right turn from northbound 32nd Street east on Evergreen Way; and a sidewalk and multi-use path.

The underpass will ensure “the free-flow of traffic off of (Highway 14) by eliminating the delays at the rail crossing” and provide for a third BNSF track, according to the website.

The city council “finds that this proposed improvement will significantly further the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Washougal and the community by improving connectivity and mobility through a more accessible multi-modal transportation system, and firmly commits to the expenditure of local funds necessary to complete the project,” according to the resolution.