Plan approved for a more accessible North Bend Way

Proposal calls for making five-mile stretch of road more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians.

On Feb. 6, the North Bend City Council voted unanimously on a motion to approve the North Bend Way Complete Street Corridor Plan.

The plan focuses on meeting Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Complete Street standards to increase mobility and safety on a five-mile stretch of North Bend Way from Park Street to 468th Ave. SE.

The plan outlines dedicated walking and biking paths on North Bend Way while incorporating the small-town character by integrating wayfinding signage, banners, planting, seating and lighting.

The Complete Street plan is intended to enable safe access and travel for all users regardless of age or ability by reducing motor vehicle speeds in coordination with increasing separation of newly-built paths for walking and biking, according to the city’s plan.

The plan divides the five-mile stretch of North Bend Way into five Complete Street segments. It includes a preferred concept for each segment, a visual mock-up of the proposed changes, and mentions opportunities for improvement and challenges faced at each segment.

Each segment’s alternative concepts are included and rated from low- to high-performing safety, connectivity, cost and environmental impact.

“We’ve been working on this project for 18 months, and there have been many meetings with city staff,” said Parametrix Senior Consultant Fred Young. “Complete Streets is really a movement across the nation. Communities all across the U.S. have similar plans to this.”

The movement, spearheaded by the Coalition for Complete Streets in 2004, prompted the City of Seattle to pass the 2007 Complete Streets Ordinance.

In 2020, WSDOT enacted policies to guide project planning, implementation, operation and maintenance of Complete Streets, followed by the passing of Washington State Senate Bill 5974, which requires local jurisdictions to implement the aspects of complete streets along state rights-of-way.

“Having that vision to connect the east side and downtown core through pedestrian paths and bikes is just incredible,” North Bend City Councilmember Errol Tremolada said. “I think I speak for many of those families out there that it is something that is missing. From a long-term economic standpoint, it’s going to be a huge value added.”

Complete Streets decrease crash rates when appropriately designed, allowing for a higher pedestrian and bicycle traffic rate. Increased activity levels generally decrease obesity rates and local populations’ risk of chronic disease. Tourism rates also increase as streets become safer for foot traffic, leading to higher sales and more jobs, according to supporters of the concept.

“It’s not perfect; it’s a work-in-progress,” North Bend City Councilmember Mark Joselyn said in support of the motion. “It’s open to ongoing conversation and construction. It lays the foundation for grant funding more than anything else.”

Grants and developer contributions will likely fund the majority of the project. The city completed a base cost estimate to qualify the plan for state funding. A detailed budget will come together as the project progresses.

An implementation meeting for the North Bend Complete Streets Plan will be held sometime between April and June 2024.