Coming this summer: A new and improved Mill Plain Boulevard in downtown Vancouver

Main arterial of city center to receive various upgrades through collaboration with WSDOT

VANCOUVER— Travel and safety improvements are coming this summer for people who travel along Mill Plain Boulevard (State Route 501) and East 15th Street between Fort Vancouver Way, just west of I-5, and West 26th Avenue near the Port of Vancouver. 

Crews will replace about 30 trees causing damage to the roadway and sidewalks along East Mill Plain Boulevard and East 15th Street with new smaller root system trees. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Crews will replace about 30 trees causing damage to the roadway and sidewalks along East Mill Plain Boulevard and East 15th Street with new smaller root system trees. Photo by Jacob Granneman

With increased growth and development in downtown Vancouver, more people than ever use this busy stretch of roadway.

Washington’s Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is working closely with the city of Vancouver and the Port of Vancouver to develop improvements and help maximize existing infrastructure. 

To provide improved protection for people riding bikes from people driving cars, bike lanes will move to the curb-side of the parking lanes. Photo by Jacob Granneman
To provide improved protection for people riding bikes from people driving cars, bike lanes will move to the curb-side of the parking lanes. Photo by Jacob Granneman

The agency said in a release  that it was thankful for everyone who provided input during the public engagement efforts that helped develop the improvements, which they hope will benefit travelers of all abilities for years to come.

Within downtown Vancouver, improvements will include: 

  • Upgraded pedestrian crossing signals, which provide visual and audio cues notifying people when it is safe to cross. These include directional flashing arrows and countdown timers so people know how much time they have to cross the road safely. 
  • New curb ramps that meet current ADA standards. Curb ramps help people of all abilities safely transition from a roadway to a curbed sidewalk and vice versa.
  • Upgraded traffic lights on East Mill Plain Boulevard at Columbia Street, Main Street, and Broadway Street that will allow for better clearance by freight traffic.
  • A new pedestrian-activated rectangular rapid-flashing beacon at the southbound I-5 off ramp to East Mill Plain Boulevard.
WSDOT is working closely with the city of Vancouver and the Port of Vancouver to develop improvements and help maximize existing infrastructure. Graphic courtesy of WSDOT
WSDOT is working closely with the city of Vancouver and the Port of Vancouver to develop improvements and help maximize existing infrastructure. Graphic courtesy of WSDOT

To provide improved protection for people riding bikes from people driving cars, bike lanes will move to the curb-side of the parking lanes. Bike lanes will also widen from four feet to five-and-a-half feet with a two-foot buffer. 

Additionally, to raise drivers’ awareness to cyclists along the roadway, bike lanes will be painted green at intersections, as a continuous reminder to drivers of the possibility of the presence of bicyclists as they merge or change lanes.

Other pedestrian improvements include the rebuilding of several sections of sidewalk. Crews working for the city of Vancouver will replace about 30 trees causing damage to the roadway and sidewalks along East Mill Plain Boulevard and East 15th Street with new smaller root system trees. 

Currently, trucks hauling oversized loads from the Port of Vancouver heading to I-5 often navigate around sections of Mill Plain because of existing high points in the roadway and low-hanging traffic lights. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Currently, trucks hauling oversized loads from the Port of Vancouver heading to I-5 often navigate around sections of Mill Plain because of existing high points in the roadway and low-hanging traffic lights. Photo by Jacob Granneman

WSDOT is working with the city to donate the removed trees to a local non-profit that will recycle the wood and give it new life as locally made goods.

To help improve freight mobility, crews will also reconstruct the intersections of East Mill Plain Boulevard at Washington Street and Main Street. 

Currently, trucks hauling oversized loads from the Port of Vancouver heading to I-5 often use local city streets to navigate around sections of East Mill Plain Boulevard because of existing high points in the roadway and low-hanging traffic lights, which often result in long loads bottoming out. 

WSDOT is working with the city to donate the removed trees to a local non-profit that will recycle the wood and give it new life as locally made goods. Photo by Jacob Granneman
WSDOT is working with the city to donate the removed trees to a local non-profit that will recycle the wood and give it new life as locally made goods. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Intersection improvements are scheduled to begin Monday, May 3, and paving work is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 26. 

Construction work will require two separate weekend closures; one at East Mill Plain Boulevard and Washington Street and the other at East Mill Plain Boulevard and Main Street, currently scheduled to occur sometime in June.

WSDOT is closely coordinating the construction work with the city of Vancouver which also has construction happening downtown. To know before you go this summer, WSDOT encourages you to sign up to receive email updates or text alerts and download our mobile app.

Information provided by Tamara Greenwell and WSDOT

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