Last month, the Clark County Council approved a $66.5 million plan that will allow development to proceed on more than 2,000 acres along the 179th Street corridor on both sides of Interstate 5.
Next week, community members can learn about road improvements needed to lift urban holding, a planning designation that blocked the area from developing without funding for road improvements.
Clark County Public Works and the Washington State Department of Transportation will host the open house from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Alki Middle School, 1800 N.W. Bliss Road. Those interested in attending can stop by anytime during the event to discuss the project, ask questions and offer comments and suggestions.
The funding package, which the county council approved Aug. 20, is for five projects:
• Improving Northeast 179th Street from Northeast Delfel Road to Northeast 15th Avenue.
• Extending Northeast 15th Avenue to the northwest and connecting it to Northeast 10th Avenue, which would dead-end south of the connection.
• Improving the intersection of Northeast 179th Street and Northeast 29th Avenue.
• Improving the intersection of Northeast 179th Street and Northeast 50th Avenue.
• Improving Northeast 10th Avenue between Northeast 149th and Northeast 154th streets.
More information on the county projects is available online at: www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/northeast-179th-street-corridor-improvements.
The Legislature has allocated $50 million to improve the 179th Street interchange on I-5, primarily using proceeds from an 11.9 cent increase to Washington’s gas tax. A preliminary schedule calls for design to begin in summer 2023, followed by construction starting in fall 2027 and finishing in fall 2030.
More information on the state’s project is available online at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i5/179th-interchange/home.
4-1 council vote
The Clark County Council voted 4-1 for a package that cobbles together the necessary money from public and private sources. It does not raise property taxes, but it will result in the Mount Vista area having one of the highest traffic impact fees in the state.
Temple Lentz, the only Democrat on the five-member council, cast the sole dissenting vote. Lentz said there is great potential for employment in the area, but the proposed development projects fall short of creating sustainable economic growth.
“Instead of recruiting an employer or investing in employment lands, this project devotes extensive county resources to support private housing developers and some retail,” she said.
“While Clark County does need more housing, what we are considering tonight is not the workforce starter and affordable housing that we lack. This is market-rate upper-middle class housing at the edge of the urban growth boundary. And development like this increases congestion, increases dependence on single-occupancy vehicles and increases commute times without increasing family-wage jobs.”
Councilor John Blom provided a different perspective, one where residential development will lead to economic expansion and job creation. Blom said he lives on the east side of Vancouver, near the Columbia Tech Center and other employment hubs.
“Those were not the first projects that went into those areas,” he said. “The first projects, if you look along 164th and 192nd avenues, were residential projects.”
“This is one piece of what we are trying to do in Clark County, whether that’s economic development, whether it’s housing, this is one piece and the very first piece in what is going to be a very long journey.”