BATTLE GROUND – Fifteen years ago, the concept of a four-lane State Route 502 was first brought before the community. This June, contractor crews working with the Washington State Department of Transportation will break ground on the project to widen the highway.
In 1999, WSDOT began reaching out to communities along the SR 502 corridor, working with a citizens advisory committee to develop alternatives that would widen and improve safety along the highway while meeting local needs. The preferred alternative, widening the existing roadway, was selected by the community in 2007. WSDOT moved forward accordingly with design and right-of-way acquisition.
Widening the highway required WSDOT to purchase more than 170 properties, the largest right-of-way acquisition the agency has ever undertaken for a single project in southwest Washington.
“Once all the properties were in place, we were able to pick a date to advertise the contract,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Chris Tams. “It was the result of a lot of effort and patience, and we appreciate how much the community worked with us during this tough process.”
During the six years it worked on right-of-way, WSDOT also designed the project and constructed wetland mitigation sites and stormwater ponds. Establishing these improvements before the roadwork begins helps improve the environmental health of the area and allows WSDOT to treat construction runoff efficiently and economically.
Once construction on the new lanes begins in June, it will take nearly three years to complete. During the first year, crews will focus on relocating the multiple utilities that run along both sides of SR 502.
“We’ve got every utility you can think of out here: gas, electricity, water, phone and cable,” said Tams. “We can’t build the road on top of them, so we’ll work with various utility companies to excavate and carefully relocate them while minimizing disruptions to folks who live along the highway.”
Crews will also widen a short section of highway just west of Dollars Corner this year. The area must be widened while utility relocation is underway to provide connectivity along the entire length of the 4.5-mile project.
During the second and third years of construction, crews will widen the rest of SR 502, install new traffic signals and median barrier, and construct sidewalks and bicycle lanes in Dollars Corner. The entire project is expected to wrap up in late 2016.
The $88 million SR 502 – Widening from I-5 to Battle Ground project is funded through the Transportation Partnership Account, a gas-tax fund approved by the Legislature in 2005. It is one of the last TPA projects to begin construction in Clark County.