Concrete barrier coming to SR-503 where three died in head on crash Friday

The project has been planned since last year, according to state transportation officials

BRUSH PRAIRIE — It won’t come in time to prevent the tragedy that befell a Battle Ground mother and her three children last Friday, but a concrete barrier is coming to the median along SR-503 from 154th Avenue to Main Street in Battle Ground.

A concrete barrier will soon be installed along SR-503 from 154th Avenue to Main Street in Battle Ground, including this stretch where a head-on crash killed three people last week. Photo by Chris Brown
A concrete barrier will soon be installed along SR-503 from 154th Avenue to Main Street in Battle Ground, including this stretch where a head-on crash killed three people last week. Photo by Chris Brown

The project has been planned since last year, says Tamara Greenwell with Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

“In this case a really, really tragic crash changed the lives of two families forever,” Greenwell says. “And it touches the community in so many ways. And it touched us here at WSDOT.”

The plan to install barriers along the 3.3-mile stretch of heavily traveled state highway between Battle Ground and Brush Prairie has been in the works since last Spring when WSDOT went through a feedback process with neighbors.

Greenwell says it went out to bid last August, and the $1.8 million contract was awarded to Rotschy, Inc. in October of last year.

“The earliest, based on the contract, that it could have even started would have been late Summer, early Fall of last year,” says Greenwell. “But that would be just for the drainage and ditching work.”

This map shows the stretch of SR-503 slated to have concrete barriers installed in the median starting this Spring. Image courtesy Washington Department of Transportation
This map shows the stretch of SR-503 slated to have concrete barriers installed in the median starting this Spring. Image courtesy Washington Department of Transportation

Greenwell says Rotschy has five months to complete the drainage work and construct the concrete barriers, which take around 20 days to fully cure before they can be transported to the work site.

Drainage work could begin as soon as next month, with installation of the barriers happening largely overnight during the Spring, with a completion date for this Summer.

After the barriers are installed, all access to SR-503 from 154th Avenue to Main Street in Battle Ground will be right-turn only, except for at signalized intersections.

While barriers might have prevented the tragic accident last Friday, or two other head-on collisions on that stretch of SR-503 since 2015, they likely won’t eliminate the majority of accidents there.

A van passes 154th Avenue on SR-503. A concrete barrier is set to be installed this Spring starting from here, north to SR-502 in Battle Ground. Photo by Chris Brown
A van passes 154th Avenue on SR-503. A concrete barrier is set to be installed this Spring starting from here, north to SR-502 in Battle Ground. Photo by Chris Brown

Greenwell says their data shows 26,000 vehicles use that stretch of SR-503 every day, up 8 percent since 2015. 

Between 2015 and 2019 there were 214 crashes along that stretch, including two fatalities (not including Friday’s crash), and five serious injury accidents.

Of those, 49 percent were rear-end type crashes, with 21 percent being “at angle” crashes, many of which come from people crossing the busy highway to turn left.

WSDOT says SR-503 is among the 20 most dangerous stretches of highway in the state, outside of major freeways.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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