Camas officials mull ‘preferred’ Everett Street improvement plan

$45M project will improve safety for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians over next two decades

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An illustration shows the preferred alternative for the city of Camas' Everett Street Corridor improvement project presented to Camas officials Dec. 20, 2023. The plan calls for elevated bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of state Route 500 that runs from just north of the Lake Road-Everett Street roundabout to the city's northern limits near Northeast Third Street.

One month after Camas residents and business owners concerned about the City’s Everett Street Corridor improvement project’s possible negative impacts to their homes and businesses packed the Camas City Council’s Nov. 20, 2023, workshop, city officials gathered again to discuss the corridor improvements and mull next steps for the traffic corridor.

“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 held Dec. 20, 2023. “This does not mean we’re not still taking comments or that people can’t still send (comments) to Council or staff. And we’re still taking questions on Engage Camas.”

The special meeting held Dec. 20 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 city staff and consultants were recommending for the 1.5-mile, two-lane state highway (state Route 500) that 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 — including the Acorn & the Oak, Lakeside Market and L&L Autobody — located between Northeast 35th and Northeast 38th avenues.

“This is a long–term project and process,” Wall told the Council Dec. 20. “We will have more detail … but 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 (WSDOT) 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 Dec. 20. “Not a lot of property owners took us up on it. We had three to four business owners in one-to-one meetings.”

In the end, Wall said, the staff and consultants used the public feedback and advisory committee and WSDOT input to rank options for the corridor improvements.

Some of the common themes included building sidewalks; providing safe options for drivers as well as bicyclists and pedestrians; and allowing emergency vehicles to safely travel through the corridor on their way to a medical or fire emergency.

The top five priorities community members noted during the first open house and first survey were: improving safety and mobility for pedestrians; improving safety and mobility for drivers; improving connections to nearby areas; emergency access for first responders; and minimizing impacts to the environment. Other priorities included improving safety and mobility for casual bicyclists; maintaining traffic flow and property access during construction; having a “Camas look and feel;” and minimizing impacts to properties on the corridor.

Due to the fact that the Everett Street Corridor is a state road, Wall said the preferred option had to not just meet the City’s standards and the public’s wishes, but also adhere to WSDOT’s requirements.

“Because it’s a state highway, WSDOT has to review and approve before we can go to bid,” Wall told city officials Dec. 20.

One of the state’s requirements for the corridor is that it meets Washington’s “Complete Streets” law, which requires all state transportation projects that cost at least $500,000 and begin after July 1, 2022, 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; and elevated, 5-foot bicycle lanes, a 5-foot planter strip and a 7-foot sidewalk on both sides of the road.

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

WSDOT also has a policy that 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 Wall.

“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 Dec. 20 that, even if there are no funding delays, the entire corridor remodel will take at least 20 years to complete and will need to be done in segments, with the first segment (35th to 43rd avenues) not set to be completed until the early 2030s; a bridge replacement for the bridge spanning 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.”

During the Council’s Nov. 20 workshop, 19 out of 20 speakers were concerned about the Everett Street project’s impacts to businesses like the Acorn & the Oak, which already have limited parking spaces.

“If you take our parking lot, we don’t have a place for our food distributors to even bring us food,” Chuck Stoltz, co-owner of the Acorn & the Oak, a restaurant that sits along Lacamas Lake in the former Lakeside Chalet building, told city officials in November. “I’m not saying nix the project, but think about who it’s affecting. There are so many red flags in this. I don’t see any pros … The project needs major reconsideration.”

Brad Richardson, a Camas resident who grew up in the town and now leads the Clark County Historical Museum, told city officials the Acorn & the Oak building’s history goes back to the 1930s and “has a deep place in everyone’s heart.”

“Small businesses have been and continue to be a key part of the mosaic that makes this town so incredible,” Richardson said during the Nov. 20 Council workshop. “If we don’t protect what makes our town special, which are the passionate small-business owners and the history, then we’re in peril of losing the deep culture and character (of Camas).”

Wall said he understands the business and property owners’ concerns and that the City does not want to negatively impact anyone in the Everett Street Corridor.

“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.”

Wall said City staff also are recommending that the City figure out additional parking in the corridor — especially in the commercial and recreational end of the corridor.

“Additional parking is something we are recommending … and that’s part of the solution moving forward,” Wall said. “We have the ability to be creative and flexible in what we do.”

To learn more about the Everett Street Corridor Analysis, visit