Camas is close to wrapping up its yearlong Everett Street Corridor Analysis project.
Last week, during the city’s third Everett Street Corridor open house on Wednesday, Sept. 20, city staff unveiled a “preferred alternative” concept.
Now, that concept will head to the Camas City Council for more input.
“We’ll kick the recommended alternative to them, and they’ll get a chance to ask questions,” Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall said, adding that he plans to discuss the Everett Street improvements during the Council’s Nov. 20 workshop.
If approved by city officials, the recommended plan will guide an extensive overhaul of the 1.5-mile stretch of state Route 500 (Everett Street) that runs from the Lake Road-Everett Street roundabout to the city limits near Northeast Third Street.
The city of Camas hopes the improvements will make the transportation corridor safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
“The main statement we’ve talked about is this multimodal component … that we’re trying to provide for vehicles, pedestrians and all modes of traffic,” Wall said.
The preferred concept includes four roundabouts, a two-lane roadway south of Southeast Leadbetter Way and a three-lane roadway north of Leadbetter, elevated bike paths and pedestrian sidewalks on both sides of the road that are separated by a landscaped buffer.
During the Sept. 20 open house, Camas staff said the concept would require up to five feet of right-of-way acquisition on each side of the road.
Wall said the preferred concept for the Everett Street Corridor is based on months of public outreach and feedback from the community.
The city kicked off the Everett Street Corridor Analysis in the summer of 2022, conducting land surveys, environmental evaluations and traffic counts, meeting with residents and business owners along the corridor and consulting with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) representatives before hosting the first of three community open houses and launching a community-wide survey in November 2022.
Since then, the city and its consultants have met multiple times with WSDOT staff and members of a technical advisory committee, held two more public open houses, conducted another public survey and answered more than two dozen Everett Street Corridor-related questions from the public on its Engage Camas website.
Results from the city’s public outreach showed the community’s top 10 priorities for the project included improved safety and mobility for pedestrians; improved safety and mobility for drivers; improved connections to nearby areas; access for emergency vehicles; minimizing impacts to the environment; improved safety and mobility for casual bicyclists; maintaining traffic flow and property access during construction; maintaining a “Camas look and feel;” minimizing impacts to properties along the corridor; and completing the project for a reasonable cost.
During the Sept. 20 open house, the city showed that, when it comes to the projected costs of the multi-phase corridor improvement project, all of the concepts considered by city staff and project consultants would currently cost around $45 million.
WSDOT also has given city staff specific guidance for the bicycle-pedestrian lanes the state agency would like to see in the corridor, and Wall said the city’s surveys have shown there is a desire for the corridor to include bicycle-pedestrian lanes that would be safer for casual cyclists who may not be comfortable riding directly beside vehicles.
Wall said once the city council has given “head nods” to the preferred alternative, city staff and consultants will begin breaking the corridor improvements into smaller segments, identifying which segments should come first for construction, and secure funding for design work.
Wall, along with the city’s communications director, Bryan Rachal, said last week that the public should realize the Everett Street Corridor improvements will not happen overnight.
“Some people think these things will happen relatively rapidly, in the next six months to a year,” Rachal said, “but, realistically, that won’t happen.”
Instead, said Wall, the project is a long-term endeavor.
“We want to break this up into different segments and each segment has its own process, which could take three to five, or six, seven years,” Wall said. “We really don’t have the ability to work on multiple segments at once.”
Wall said the city is already in the process of finding funding to design what will likely be the first segment — from Northeast 35th Avenue to Northeast 43rd Avenue, where the majority of the corridor’s businesses and recreational opportunities are sited.
The public will have more chances to weigh in on the project once that type of design work begins, Wall added.
“In the design process, there will be stakeholder outreach,” Wall said. “We will still do public outreach and still go back to the Council for their input.”
Rachal said the city is trying to be “very deliberate” in its Everett Street Corridor improvement planning.
“The city has to balance the need to get this road fixed with (the needs of) the public and property owners,” Rachal said. “We’re trying to be meticulous about this process and let people know that nothing is happening overnight.”
To learn more about the Everett Street Corridor Analysis, visit engagecamas.com/everett-street-corridor-analysis.