Safe Routes to School project brings shared-use path to Vancouver this summer

New path brings better connectivity for those who walk and roll to Pioneer Elementary School and Frontier Middle School

VANCOUVER – Families who walk, bike, roll, skate or scoot to school in the Orchards neighborhood will have a safer path to school thanks to Safe Routes to School funding.

On Tuesday, June 20, Washington State Department of Transportation’s contractor, Thompson Bros. Excavating, will begin construction of a new shared-use path on the south side of State Route 500, also known as Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard,  between Northeast 162nd and Northeast 166th avenues, allowing those who bike, walk or roll to travel safely to school.

This project will provide a marked crossing from the neighborhoods south of SR 500 to the schools located on the north side of the highway, Pioneer Elementary School and Frontier Middle School, as well as a HAWK (High intensity Activated crossWalK) pedestrian signal across SR 500 at Northeast 166th Avenue and curb ramp improvements.

What is a HAWK signal?

A HAWK signal operates in a yellow-red-flashing red sequence to alert motorists that pedestrians need to cross the road. Unlike traffic signals, the HAWK signal only operates when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button. Vehicles are free to move when no one is crossing the street.

Motorists should respond to the yellow and red lights in the same manner as any other traffic signal. After stopping for the red light, when the light changes to the flashing red interval, motorists may proceed through the crossing area only when safe to do so without risk to pedestrians.

What to expect during construction

Between June and September, travelers using SR 500 should expect daytime intermittent single lane closures and flaggers through the work zone.

“We’re excited to bring this project to the local community so kids and families can get to school more safely,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Susan Fell. “Safe Routes to School funding helps serve the needs of those who walk and roll to their destination.”  

The Safe Routes to Schools Program is designed to improve safety for children as they walk and roll to school. Funding from this program is for projects within two miles of primary, middle and high schools.

This $1 million project is scheduled for completion this fall.

Image shows SR 500 between 162nd and 166th Ave where a HAWK signal, ADA curb ramps and marked crossing will be installed as part of the Safe Routes to School program

Slow down – lives are on the line. 

In 2023, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.

Even one life lost is too many.

Fatal work zone crashes doubled in 2023 - Washington had 10 fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.