SR 500 - Fourth Plain Operations Study

Open Houses

Earlier this year we held two separate open house; a public open house was held on May 29, 2019 and an open house targeting businesses was held on June 17, 2019. The purpose of both open houses was to share the initial results of a planning study to identify strategies that would improve travel conditions at the intersection of State Route 500 and Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard in Vancouver. Feedback gathered at both open houses was used to help inform the study and a report was finalized this past summer.

Study Overview

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) studied the intersection of State Route 500 and Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard in Clark County to identify issues affecting safety, mobility, and travel reliability in the corridor. Recent data had identified SR 500 at Fourth Plain Boulevard as having the most traffic congestion and motorist delays of any highway intersection in Clark County.

Nearly 3,000 travelers provided feedback on their experience traveling through the area of SR 500 and NE Fourth Plain Boulevard through an online survey in January, which helped inform our decision-making as we developed possible solutions. Common concerns reported in the survey included the amount of time spent waiting at traffic signals, unpredictable travel time, and finding alternate routes to avoid congestion. Over 20 potential projects were analyzed, ranging from small operational changes to large-scale infrastructure improvements. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) including representatives from the City of Vancouver, Clark County, C-TRAN and the Southwest Regional Transportation Council helped evaluate each potential strategy based on its effectiveness, cost-benefit, and ease of implementation. These individual ideas were used to create a range of possible improvement packages that could address issues in the corridor.

Range of possible improvement packages

Fourth Plain Blvd Eastbound Widening Corridor Improvement Package

  • A. Restripe westbound NE 65th St at the intersection with SR 503 to provide a westbound left-turn lane and a shared through/right-turn lane. Add yellow flashing arrows for travelers turning left onto SR 503 to yield to oncoming traffic.
  • B. Improve signal timing at all traffic lights on Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 500/SR 503 within the study area.
  • C. Connect the existing eastbound right-turn lanes on Fourth Plain between SR 500 and 131st Ave to provide a third eastbound lane.
  • D. Widen SR 500 to provide dual northbound right-turn lanes onto eastbound Fourth Plain Blvd.

Package Summary
This corridor package combines constructing a third eastbound travel lane on Fourth Plain Blvd with additional capacity improvements at the SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 503/65th St intersections.

Benefits

  • Improves travel time reliability on Fourth Plain Blvd for both the AM and PM peak commute hours
  • Eases back-ups on Fourth Plain Blvd between SR 500 and 121st Ave
  • Reduces driver delay at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd, 121st Ave/Fourth Plain Blvd, and 131st Ave/Fourth Plain Blvd during peak commute hours

Impacts

  • Requires purchasing additional right of way; added signing and striping
  • Increases pedestrian crossing distance of Fourth Plain Blvd
  • May impact property access along

Cost Estimate: $20-30 Million (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)

Fourth Plain Blvd Flyover Ramp Corridor Improvement Package

  • A. Restripe westbound NE 65th St at the intersection with SR 503 to provide a westbound left-turn lane and a shared through/right-turn lane. Add yellow flashing arrows for travelers turning left onto SR 503 to yield to oncoming traffic.
  • B. Improve signal timing at all traffic lights on Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 500/SR 503 within the study area.
  • C. Convert the westbound left-turn from Fourth Plain Blvd onto SR 500 southbound to an elevated flyover, facilitating movement independent of the signal.

Package Summary
This corridor package combines a westbound left turn flyover ramp from Fourth Plain Blvd to SR 500 with capacity improvements at SR 503/65th St.

Benefits

  • Improves safety by eliminating left-turn conflicts at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd
  • Reduces driver delays for all movements at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd
  • Eliminates congestion back-up from vehicles turning left from Fourth Plain Blvd westbound to SR 500 southbound
  • Could be combined with added (second) right-turn lane for northbound SR 500 to eastbound Fourth Plain Blvd

Impacts

  • Fourth Plain Blvd benefits are limited by the congestion at the 121st Ave intersection
  • May require additional analysis to determine impacts to accesses in order to accommodate flyover structure
  • May impact property access along Fourth Plain Blvd

Cost Estimate
$20-30 Million (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)

SR 500 - Fourth Plain Boulevard Displaced Left Plus Concept

  • A. Restripe westbound NE 65th St at the intersection with SR 503 to provide a westbound left-turn lane and a shared through/right-turn lane. Add yellow flashing arrows for travelers turning left onto SR 503 to yield to oncoming traffic.
  • B. Improve signal timing at all traffic lights on Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 500/SR 503 within the study area.
  • C. Convert the westbound and eastbound left turns from Fourth Plain Blvd to displaced left turns. Drivers wishing to turn left onto SR 500/SR 503 would move into two left-turn lanes on Fourth Plain Blvd at traffic lights before they get to the main intersection with SR 500/SR 503.

Package Summary
This corridor package combines modifications to the westbound and eastbound left turns at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd with additional capacity improvements at SR 503/65th St.

Benefits

  • Significantly increases westbound left-turn capacity at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd, improving westbound travel time reliability
  • Provides benefits to both eastbound and westbound left turns on Fourth Plain Blvd
  • Improves safety and reduces driver delays at the intersection of Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 500/SR 503

Impacts

  • Increases congestion and driver delays on 121st Ave
  • Fourth Plain capacity constrained by congestion at the 121st Ave intersection
  • May require purchasing additional right of way for the relocated SR 500 right-turn lane to eastbound Fourth Plain Blvd
  • May impact property access along Fourth Plain Blvd

Cost Estimate: $7-10 Million (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)

SR 500 503 Full Grade Separation Corridor Improvement Package

  • A. Restripe westbound NE 65th St at the intersection with SR 503 to provide a westbound left-turn lane and a shared through/right-turn lane. Add yellow flashing arrows for travelers turning left onto SR 503 to yield to oncoming traffic.
  • B. Improve signal timing at all traffic lights on Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 500/SR 503 within the study area.
  • C. Convert the northbound and southbound through movements at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd to an elevated flyover. Frontage roads will maintain access to a reconfigured at-grade intersection (see improvement D).
  • D. Construct a roundabout at the at-grade intersection of Fourth Plain Blvd at SR 500/ SR 503. Roundabouts may also be considered at the intersections of 65th St/SR 503 and 121st Ave/Fourth Plain Blvd.

Package Summary
This corridor package combines full grade separation of both northbound and southbound directions of SR500/SR 503 at Fourth Plain Blvd, and capacity improvements at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 503/65th St.

Benefits

  • Grade separation of SR 500/SR 503 provides safety benefits to northbound and southbound through movements
  • Improves travel time reliability on SR 500 and SR 503
  • Reduces queuing back-up from vehicles turning left from Fourth Plain Blvd westbound to SR 500 southbound
  • Reduces driver delay at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 503/65th St during peak commute hours

Impacts

  • Fourth Plain Blvd benefits are limited by the congestion at the 121st Ave intersection
  • Turn restrictions may be needed at northbound SR 503
  • May impact property access along Fourth Plain Blvd

Cost Estimate: $55-70 Million (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)

SR 503 Northbound Widening Corridor Improvement Package

  • A. Restripe westbound NE 65th St at the intersection with SR 503 to provide a westbound left-turn lane and a shared through/right-turn lane. Add yellow flashing arrows for travelers turning left onto SR 503 to yield to oncoming traffic.
  • B. Improve signal timing at all traffic lights on Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 500/SR 503 within the study area.
  • C. Add a third northbound lane to SR 503 between Fourth Plain Blvd and Padden Pkwy. Convert the northbound right-turn only lanes at 65th St and 76th St to shared through/right-turn lanes.
  • D. Convert the southbound right-turn lane at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd to a shared through/ right-turn lane to provide a third southbound through lane at the intersection.

Package Summary
This package combines constructing a third northbound travel lane on SR 503 between Fourth Plain Blvd and Padden Pkwy with additional capacity improvements at the SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 503/65th St intersections.

Benefits

  • Reduces driver delay at SR 500/Fourth Plain Blvd during peak commute hours
  • Reduces driver delay on 65th St during peak commute hours
  • Improves travel time reliability along SR 503
  • Reduces back-ups on SR 503 northbound between Fourth Plain Blvd and 65th St

Impacts

  • Requires purchasing additional right of way; added signing and striping
  • Increases pedestrian crossing distance of SR 503
  • May impact property access along SR 503

Cost Estimate: $15-25 Million (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)

SR 500 Fourth Plain Boulevard Stand Alone Concept

  • A. Restripe the westbound approach of SR 503/65th St to provide a dedicated westbound left-turn lane and shared through/right-turn lane. Implement flashing yellow arrows on 65th St. Cost Estimate: $10,000-$20,000 (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)
  • B. Improve signal timing at all traffic lights on Fourth Plain Blvd and SR 500/SR 503 within the study area. Cost Estimate: $50,000-$150,000 (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)
  • C. Add real-time travel signs north of Padden Pkwy to give drivers heading to I-205 travel time comparisons. Add additional static signs to guide travelers to I-205. Cost Estimate: $1-2 Million (Preliminary cost ranges for planning purposes only)
  • D. Connect or extend local roadways to provide parallel routes for local traffic to access SR 500 and Fourth Plain Blvd. Cost to be determined when roadway connections are identified.

Package Summary
This package provides a collection of standalone improvements that may be implemented regardless of which corridor package is preferred. The standalone strategies can be implemented separately from each other as funding becomes available.

Benefits

  • Reduces driver delay at SR 503/65th St during peak commute hours
  • Improves travel time reliability and driver expectation along SR 503 and Fourth Plain Blvd
  • Improves driver expectation traveling to I-205
  • Allows for increased mobility during incidents, roadwork, and peak commute times

Impacts

  • Requires additional right of way, signage, and striping
  • Requires maintenance and integrated systems for real-time information

Funding

While no funding is currently identified to implement infrastructure improvements on SR 500 and NE Fourth Plain Boulevard, having a preferred project and the predicted costs will allow us to act quickly when appropriate funding becomes available. It may also help improve coordination with local partners as they develop their own transportation plans. Small operational changes such as signal adjustment are also possible in the near term in coordination with local partners. Funding has not been identified for construction of future infrastructure improvements. 

Next Steps

We are working with the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) to replace the current project on the Regional Transportation Plan with the preferred improvement design packages:

  • Of the above listed concepts, both the Fourth Plain Displaced Left Corridor Improvement package and the Standalone Strategies package are the preferred improvement design packages.  

Timeline

  • Jan. 2019: Online survey for public input conducted with nearly 3,000 responses
  • May 29, 2019: Public open house held to present potential improvement packages for community review and feedback
  • June 17, 2019: An open house targeting businesses was held to present potential improvement packages for review and feedback 
  • Summer 2019: Study concluded and a report was finalized 

Contact

Judith Perez
360-905-2053
perezjud@wsdot.wa.gov

SR 500 and Fourth Plain Boulevard study location, in the Orchards are of Vancouver, WA.