SR 500 42nd Ave - 54th Ave Safety Improvements Study

Study news

State Route 500 is one of the primary high-speed east-west connections between I-5 and I-205, and a gateway into east Clark County. Growth and development in the area are contributing to increased traffic backups, delays and accidents. Over the last ten years, the number of people driving on SR 500 has increased by 30 percent.

There are two traffic lights on SR 500, at Northeast Falk Road/Northeast 42nd Avenue and at Northeast 54th Avenue/Northeast Stapleton Road. As traffic grows, so do collisions. In the past five years, nearly 400 crashes have occurred near these two intersections. The primary contributing factor to these crashes are the lights. Operational efforts to improve safety have helped, but additional improvements are necessary to have a significant impact in reducing collisions.

Study Purpose

  • WSDOT is conducting this study to identify and analyze ideas that would improve safety on SR 500 between Northeast St. Johns Road and Northeast Andresen Road, while maintaining bicycle and pedestrian access across the highway.
  • This study is being conducted in coordination with local partners including the City of Vancouver, Clark County, C-TRAN and the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, along with significant input from the community.
  • WSDOT will use the results of the study to select a preferred project and seek funding for implementation.

 

Study Area History

Previous discussions to address safety, future growth projections, congestion, and other needs on SR 500 have focused on the possibility of major infrastructure improvements, such as an overpass and interchange at Northeast 42nd Avenue and Northeast 54th Avenue. These improvements were estimated to cost $80 million. To date, no funding has been committed – these projects were not funded in the most recent legislative transportation package – and there is no certainty on if or when funding could be available for such a significant investment.

Will WSDOT build an overpass and/or interchange at these intersections?

WSDOT will not build an overpass and interchange at these locations as a result of this study. Funding for a project of this magnitude would need to be provided by the legislature and there is no certainty on when or if it could be provided. There are, however, more affordable ways to address the safety needs on this vital Clark County route. These can and should be addressed as soon as possible.

As directed by the legislature, any improvements at these locations need to be determined using a practical solutions approach which focuses on cost-effective, data-driven strategies to address specific needs. The safety improvements being shared here address safety needs; they also have effects like improving travel reliability and requiring some out of direction travel. Needs not addressed could be a reason to identify future additional improvements. It is possible that those needs could be met through more cost effective improvements.

Existing Conditions

These two intersections are the last two remaining lights between I-5 and I-205 on SR 500. Between 1998 and 2016, traffic grew more than 30%. Today there are around 60,000 trips on SR 500 in this area every day. Over a five-year span, there were nearly 400 crashes around these lights. On average, that is more than one crash a week. Analysis of these crashes shows that they are the result of increasing congestion, lights and driver inattention. Increasing congestion at these traffic lights is the primary cause of these crashes.

In response, we have worked to enhance safety by adjusting traffic light timing, coordinating the traffic lights, and installing traffic-warning signs. These efforts alone at this location do not significantly reduce crashes. Additional changes are needed to continue to improve safety.

SR 500 - 42nd Ave - 54th Ave crash data
 

SR 500 - 42nd Ave - 54th Ave crash data 2012 - 2016

Next steps

WSDOT will compile and use feedback from commuinty and stakeholder input to refine the concepts and to help select a preferred concept this summer. After the preferred concept has been selected, we will begin efforts to secure funding as quickly as possible. Without committed funding, a specific construction timeframe cannot be provided. However, we will share our progress as there are updates.

Any safety improvements made as a result of this study will change how people travel in and around the SR 500 corridor. There may be needs or wants that a safety project does not address or that emerge over time. WSDOT will consider other issues important to the community and possible solutions for which funding would need to be found. WSDOT will monitor any safety improvements for effectiveness. If data determines that additional improvements are necessary to address safety or other concerns, further discussion and analysis will be needed to consider future investments.

Project Timeline

Fall/winter 2017

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Develop scope of work

Spring/early summer 2018

  • Stakeholder communication
  • Community engagement
  • Open house and online survey
  • Safety and data analysis
  • Finalize concepts

Summer 2018

  • Select a preferred project
  • Seek funding for implementation

Funding

WSDOT has provided $200,000 for the safety improvements study. Funding for concepts identified in the study is not currently available.

Contact

Your feedback is important

Please contact the study team with questions or comments about this safety study:

Judith R. Perez, AICP, Study Lead