CAMAS — Shortly after Shannon Turk was appointed to the Camas City Council, her coworker started asking her when the city was going to fix “Ditch Road.”
Turk knew she was referring to Northwest Brady Road, a narrow, winding two-lane road with little shoulder room and broken up sidewalks that slopes down into a ditch on one side of the street. She spoke to then-Mayor Scott Higgins, who said the city was working on obtaining grant money. A few months later, Higgins told her it was looking good for the grant money.
That was back in 2012; construction on the Brady Road improvements started this month, nearly a year after Turk was elected mayor.
“(My coworker) has since retired, so I’m going to have to go to her house to tell her we’re fixing it,” Turk said. “It takes a long time to fix a road.”
Turk, who works as a senior financial analyst for the city of Vancouver, said she’s familiar with the cost and time it takes for road construction, but she was still surprised by just how long it has taken Camas to secure money to improve Brady.
“I know people who refuse to travel that road because of the ditch,” Turk said. “They’re very excited to hear we’re fixing it.”
The entire project costs roughly $7.8 million, about $6 million of which is coming from state funds through the Connecting Washington program. The rest of the project is being funded with about $340,000 of federal funds and about $1.5 million in city dollars.
Brady construction is expected to run through the summer of 2020. Project manager Jim Hodges said the first steps will be clearing one side of the road and moving the utility poles underground. The road is now about 20 feet wide, Hodges said. That will more than double once the work is complete, with the addition of bike lanes, a middle turn lane and sidewalks on both sides of the road.
“This thing is long overdue,” he said.
The work will also see a temporary lane on Brady starting early 2020, to be used until roughly mid-May, according to Jim Carothers, engineering manager with the city.
Carothers said Brady is one of the “few north-south arterials” in the city, and many residents use to access state Highway 14. The area near Brady is mostly residential, although it is near Prune Hill Elementary School. Houses north of that area are closer to Green Valley Elementary School, Turk said.
“The biggest improvement besides the safety issues of dealing with the ditch is there will be some improvements to the sidewalks,” she said. “It’s a dangerous road. There’s nowhere to walk.”
There is also some land near Brady zoned for industrial use, which is why the city was able to obtain funding for the project. Turk expects the road improvements will help the city draw interest to that land.
“That is the basis of the grant we got in 2012,” Turk said. “It’s about creating connections for economic development.”
The one thing that isn’t clear right now is what will happen to the “Ditch Road” moniker once the road work is completed.
“I’m sure we will come up with a different name for it,” Turk said.