The vote will allow the next Bus Rapid Transit line for Vancouver to enter the design phase
VANCOUVER — C-TRAN is officially moving forward to the second phase in their plan to bring The Vine to Mill Plain.
At its monthly meeting, C-TRAN’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the Mill Plain route. It will run from a new transit station near 192nd, along Mill Plain, to Evergreen Boulevard to the existing Turtle Place transit center in downtown Vancouver.
The western end of the line has created some controversy, with Vancouver City Councilor and C-TRAN board member Ty Stober saying he would have preferred a more northern alignment.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Sarah Hitchcock took time during citizen comments to say she would have preferred a route along 15th to Washington.
“At 12th and Washington there are four low-income apartment complexes,” she pointed out, “two of which provide for seniors.”
The committee that recommended the LPA determined the Evergreen alignment met more of the criteria they had set, and left room for a third Bus Rapid Transit line along Highway 99 in the future.
Another concern was raised by James Combs, who was representing Fred Meyer Stores.
“We fear eliminating westbound left turn movements to the store from Mill Plain, with a center island station, will have a significant negative impact on the Fred Meyer store business,” Combs told the board. “The store has been there four years longer than the Glen Jackson … bridge. It opened in 1978.”
C-TRAN Chief External Affairs Officer Scott Patterson said they’re aware of the concerns Fred Meyer and other businesses on the southwest corner of Mill Plain and Chkalov have, but said that is based on very early design work.
“That is one of those pinch points on the project that we knew would be there for some time,” said Patterson, “and the design team has come up with some creative options that we think will not only benefit transit but overall traffic flow through that intersection.”
Phase II will kick off environmental studies for the 10-mile BRT line, as well as the final design phase. C-TRAN also unanimously approved a contract with HDR Engineering to work on the Mill Plain BRT project. HDR has done most of the preliminary design work for Phase I.
Patterson said C-TRAN is fronting the costs for the design phase, but that they anticipate qualifying for a number of Federal Transit Administration grants.
“The Mill Plain BRT project will deliver on our mission of connecting people to opportunities, supporting economic vitality and enhancing quality of life in this great community,” said C-TRAN CEO Shawn M. Donaghy in a statement after the vote. “We’re grateful to the board, the Federal Transit Administration and all of our partners as we advance this project and build on the success of The Vine.”
C-TRAN says they expect the price tag for the Mill Plain Vine will be about $50 million, the maximum amount they can spend and still qualify for FTA loans. Local costs are currently estimated to be around $22 million, but Patterson is hopeful that number will come down if they can qualify for other federal or state grants.
The Mill Plain Vine is currently slated to begin construction in either late 2020, or sometime in 2021, with a projected opening date in 2023.
To read more about the project, including some of the criticism over the price tag and whether BRT is necessary for Vancouver, read our earlier coverage here.