Olympia street improvement in the works

City wants community input on their plans


Olympia's Assistant City Engineer Steve Sperr announced that developing street connectivity and downtown sidewalk standards would take time.

During the Land Use and Environment Committee update on Thursday, September 15, Sperr explained that they would like to have a comprehensive plan dialogue with the community before making recommendations.

He said some issues are merging into street connectivity development, and they hope to address it in the next comprehensive plan update:

  •  Defining "unique neighborhood character and context
  •  Updating the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) Guidelines
  • Defining substantive wetland and critical area impacts
  • Further identifying "traffic calming” methods to mitigate safety impacts 

Sperr also discussed the six substantive changes in the Engineering and Design Development Standards (EDDS) completed in 2021.

Sperr presented to the committee meeting the EDDS' six development changes:

  • Street connectivity
  • Downtown sidewalk standards
  • Thresholds for frontage improvements
  • Private streets in mobile homes parks
  • Protected bike lanes
  • Solid waste changes

He said EDDS took guidance from the city's Comprehensive Plan and considered community vision.

Transportation plan

Sperr said they have identified sidewalk cafes and reviewed increased sidewalk widths for downtown sidewalk standards.

"We have realized there's a lot of areas where we would like to have it, but we have got conflicts on some of the streets with bus stops and active street uses," he told the committee members.

As for the frontage improvements, Sperr admitted there were some delays in recommendations because they have challenges in staff availability.

According to Sperr, they are now developing a street standard for private street mobile home parks, including requirements for the fire department and solid waste access, a sidewalk on one side, revising the "private street" definition in EDDS, and adding standard drawings. "This is something that we've gotten pretty far along at a staff level. We'll be bringing that back, or hopefully a change next year."

Enhanced bike lanes development

Interim Public Transportation Director Sophie Stimson said they introduced a new concept of enhanced bike lanes, which give cyclists as much protection from motor vehicle traffic by either building any of these types of facilities:

  • Buffered bike lane – is a two-foot minimum buffer that would separate cyclists from vehicle lanes.
  •  Separated bike lane has a three-foot minimum buffer and some vertical elements to increase that separation for the cyclist. This vertical element can be many things. It can be tubular markers, it could be planters, or it could be moveable planters.
  • Parking-protected bike lane – it could be built on streets that have parking. The bike lane is inside the parked car toward the sidewalk. The parked vehicles act as the vertical separation from the travel way.
  • Shared-use path – is similar to the raised and curb-separated bike lane. Johnson said it has a broader sidewalk where bikes and pedestrians use the lane.
  • Raised and curb-separated bike lane - the bike lane is at the sidewalk level. The cyclist is inside the planter and protected from the vehicles.

She said they are planning to use enhanced bike lanes on major roads next year on Fones Road, Mottman Road, Wiggins Road, and Martin Way.

Sperr said the Division of Public Works –Waste Resources is updating its six-year master plan. They have identified several major and minor changes, particularly in Multi-Family and Mixed-Use facilities.


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