Community chimes in on Camas’ Everett Street Corridor

Survey shows safety, mobility for pedestrians and drivers is key; city plans second open house

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Drivers pass by the intersection of Northeast 43rd Avenue and Northeast Everett Street in Camas, where a sign announcing the city of Camas' Everett Street Corridor Analysis project is posted, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

A recent community survey shows that when it comes to improving Camas’ Everett Street Corridor, a 1.5-mile stretch of state Route 500 that runs from the Lake Road-Everett Street roundabout to the city limits near Northeast Third Street, the majority of survey-takers want city leaders to focus on improving the corridor’s safety and mobility – for drivers as well as pedestrians – and connection to nearby parks, schools and roads leading into the city’s historic downtown.

“One of the big comments is that we need sidewalks or some sort of safe pathway for pedestrians and runners,” Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall told Camas City Council members during the Council’s Jan. 17 workshop.

Pointing to data that showed 136 of the 347 survey respondents said they regularly walk the Everett Street Corridor and 54 out of 347 said they regularly run along the road, Wall said “it’s no wonder” many survey respondents pointed out a need for better pathways or sidewalks along the popular traffic corridor.

Wall said other comments showed survey takers also care about minimizing impacts to the environment; improving safety and mobility for cyclists; maintaining the flow of traffic and property access during construction; and retaining “a Camas look and feel” for the traffic corridor.

“We have yet to define this, but I think people were pretty happy overall with the look and feel of the roundabout,” Wall said, referring to the traffic roundabout at Lake Road and Everett Street that the city completed in 2019, adding that city planners are currently discussing what “the Camas look and feel” means to community members when it comes to the city’s future North Shore area.

“We want to make sure (the Everett Street Corridor) matches not just what we’re trying to do in North Shore but in all of Camas,” Wall said.

The city, with the assistance of PBS Engineering and Environmental consultants, launched the first phase of the Everett Street Corridor analysis in August 2022: erecting billboard signs along the corridor to alert the public to the ongoing project; collecting technical data; meeting with property and business owners who live and work along the corridor; beginning a traffic analysis; forming a technical advisory committee with more than a dozen stakeholder groups, including the Camas School District, Downtown Camas Association, Camas-Washougal Fire Department, Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT); and reaching out to the general community via a survey and an in-person open house.

“We’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do with this corridor. We’re gathering technical data, working with partner agencies, including WSDOT since this is a state route,” Wall said. “A big piece is the public input. We purposefully haven’t put pen to paper … (because we’re) trying to figure out what’s important to people on this corridor.”

The goal, Wall added, is to collect all of the technical data and input from stakeholders and community members before coming up with some options that would someday turn the Everett Street Corridor — which connects the city’s most populated areas and downtown business district the northeast part of the city that houses Camas High School on Northeast 43rd Avenue, the city’s mostly undeveloped North Shore area and small businesses as well as park entrances near the Lake Road-Everett Street roundabout — into a “safe, efficient passage for modes of traffic.”

The project will likely need to be done in small chunks and won’t be something that happens overnight, Wall said.

“This is something that will (cost) tens of millions of dollars to complete, and will probably take decades, whether that’s 10, 20 or 30 years,” Wall said. “And unless there’s some gigantic pot of money we don’t know about, this will be done in phases.”

“We want to have a roadmap to get us further along as we understand how much money is going to be needed and how this will be constructed,” Wall added. “And, as we go through that, we will need some prioritization as well.”

Wall said city staff and the PBS consultants agree there will be “a lot of public input” before any work on the corridor begins.

“There are a lot of needs to balance,” Wall said.

The city will hold another public open house the evening of April 26, at the Lacamas Lake Lodge, and plan to show the community some potential concepts at that point, Wall said.

“We don’t have an exact time (for the open house) yet,” Wall added, “But we will send postcards out and … try to make sure everybody has the opportunity to attend.”

Wall said he expects the city will have a “preferred alternative” showing the planned Everett Street Corridor improvements — as well as a better understanding of how much funding the city might need to complete those improvements — by this summer.

Camas City Councilman John Nohr asked Wall if the project might be able to access WSDOT funding considering the road is a state route.

Wall said the state department of transportation likely wouldn’t include the corridor on the list of highway and road projects WSDOT funds directly, but that Camas may have opportunities through WSDOT programs, such as the Safe Routes to School initiative that seeks to improve Washington students’ ability to walk and bike to their neighborhood schools.

“WSDOT might not be putting cash up front, but there are opportunities,” Wall said. “And I would guess we would have some success with federal funding along this corridor.”

For more information about the Everett Street Corridor project, visit