SEASIDE - With just a bit of redesign and removal of most trucks, Wahanna Road in Seaside may eventually become a pathway for pedestrians and bikes as well and cars.
City officials and planners from the Oregon Department of Transportation, who are working on a transportation system plan, examined proposed designs for Wahanna Road during a work session Monday night that showed how the road might look in the future.
They also discussed other aspects of the transportation system plan, including possible pedestrian bridges across U.S. Highway 101, the preferred design of the highway and the eventual costs to put everything into place.
Wahanna Road's right-of-way varies from 30 to 40 feet wide from where it joins Lewis and Clark Road on the north to south of Avenue U. While the traffic lanes are each 12-feet wide, if heavy freight and logging trucks are blocked from using the road, the lanes could be reduced to 10 feet, said Neal Wallace, city public works director.
Room then would be available to create a 10-foot-wide strip on the west side of the road for bicycles and pedestrians. Where the road is a full 40 feet wide, a 3-foot-wide sidewalk could be placed on the east side, Wallace said.
The proposed design, however, would depend on improvements made at Wahanna and 24th Avenue. The improvements might include signals in that area, as well as a bridge that would connect Lewis and Clark Road with Highway 101, making it easier to use the highway and access Lewis and Clark Road, instead of using Wahanna Road.
In areas where wetlands go right up to Wahanna, an elevated pathway could be built to allow for rising water during the wet season, Wallace said. The path could possibly wrap into a pedestrian bridge at Avenue S, he added.
With a pedestrian-bike lane that essentially begins at the Necanicum estuary and extends to the south of town, two of the main sites of the proposed Necanicum Natural History Park would be connected - the estuary and the mill ponds - Wallace noted.
Essentially, City Planner Kevin Cupples told the group, a "backside Prom" to Seaside would be created.
"I can see kids on bikes, on skateboards, people in wheelchairs," said Cupples, who noted that the pathway could provide the alternative access the city wants. "If you tie in a pedestrian bridge, you would have a whole loop system."
Steve Winters, a member of the city planning commission, said many families and kids already use the road. "It's an awesome idea," Winters said.
Where trees might block a linear path, the path could swing around the trees, Wallace said.
In areas where the road is 30 feet wide, the city would try to acquire enough right-of-way to widen it to at least 35 feet, Wallace said. Homeowners would be compensated for lost landscaping.
ODOT area planner Ingrid Weisenbach said that citizen responses to several design alternatives for the highway indicate that a "hybrid" design is more popular than the others.
This option would create two lanes in each direction on the highway between Fourth Avenue and Avenue G, one lane in each direction north of Fourth Avenue and south of Avenue G and provide turn pockets on the highway and on side streets at 24th and 12th avenues and Avenue U.
The alternative would create a wider highway through some of the city but retain a smaller footprint overall. Traffic congestion would be below capacity, and delays would be lessened. However, pedestrian crossings would be wider, and delays for southbound traffic at 24th Avenue would remain, Weisenbach said.
The group also looked at preliminary cost estimates for all parts of the transportation plan. As alternatives are narrowed and refined, the costs also will be re-examined, Weisenbach said.
Because the transportation system plan is meant to cover 20 years, the costs were categorized as "short-term" (0-five years), "medium-term" (five to 10 years) and "long-term" (10 to 20 years).
Reconstruction on Highway 101 at Lewis and Clark Road, including reconstruction of the existing bridge, for instance, might be a "medium-term" project and could cost $15.7 million.
Phase two of that project, which would include construction of a new 24th Avenue intersection, would be a long-term project, with a price tag (in 2010 dollars) of $6.6 million.
But a three-way stop at Lewis & Clark Road could happen within the next five years, at cost of $30,000.
Wahanna Road improvements are slated in the preliminary plan to be a medium-term project, estimated to cost $6.7 million.
The group also discussed a request by the Hood-to-Coast Relay organizers for a pedestrian overcrossing on U.S. Highway 101, but Weisenbach said that a recommendation will be made not to pursue the overcrossings.
State code requires that the overcrossings be at least 17.5 feet above a highway, and with federal accessibility standards, about 300 feet of ramps would be required to reach the overcrossing. The ramps could stretch three to four blocks long, requiring the closure of some local roads. The cost could amount to $3 million per crossing, Weisenbach added.
"People are going to have to cross the highway in a more traditional way," she said.