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.
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.”
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.
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.