The Project
Late in 2013 the Grays Harbor Council of Governments applied for and received federal Surface Transportation Program funding to complete an alternatives analysis entitled the East Aberdeen Mobility Project. The project will analyze options for easing congestion and improving safety along US 12 between Fleet Street (Riverfront Park/Top Foods) and the Wishkah River. Additional project priorities include facilitating access to local businesses in and around Olympic Gateway Plaza, improving pedestrian and bicycle mobility and safety, and avoiding traffic backups on US 12 caused by rail traffic.

The Council of Governments, the lead agency responsible for managing the project, has partnered with Port of Grays Harbor to garner the federal funding local match for the project. The City of Aberdeen also serves as a project partner for evaluating design alternatives for a future facility to be constructed within their city limits. David Evans and Associates has been contracted to provide the needed technical expertise.

The Need
The project area is a vital commercial core in the City of Aberdeen. Local residents as well as visitors to Grays Harbor frequent this busy area as they patronize local businesses; grocery stores, retail shops and restaurants. Olympic Gateway Plaza is accessed by vehicles from US 12 on the north side of the shopping area by crossing over the Puget Sound And Pacific (PSAP) railroad tracks at seven at-grade intersections and private driveways. When trains are moving through east Aberdeen along the PSAP tracks, access to and from the shopping area is cut off until the train passes, resulting in traffic congestion.

Traffic congestion occurs on US 12 as vehicles use the eastbound right lane as turn lane storage. Westbound left turn lane pockets fill up as vehicles wait for trains to clear the at-grade intersections into Olympic Gateway Plaza. And perhaps most importantly, standard emergency vehicle access to the Olympic Gateway Plaza is not available when the trains are present, a delay which can last upwards of 30 minutes. This backup of traffic onto US 12 impedes and in some events stops traffic movement on US 12 altogether; interrupting the free flow of traffic, interrupting access to area businesses, slowing or halting the efficient movement of freight traffic, and virtually eliminating all pedestrian and bicycle access.

Recommendations for improvements in the East Aberdeen Mobility Project area were initially documented in 2007 (then known as Wishkah Mall Access Improvements) as part of the US 101 Regional Circulation Project.

The Timeline
Internal efforts to establish the project began in June of 2013 and the official project kick-off occurred in June of 2014. Since that time: we have held individual meetings with property owners and businesses in the area; completed surveying, base-mapping and a wide range of data collection; site investigation work is on-going as well as discussions with our transportation providers and first responders.

We anticipate conclusion of our data gathering and investigations resulting in a draft plan in November of 2014. The final East Aberdeen Mobility Project plan is scheduled for completion by December 31, 2014.

Community involvement is welcomed and encouraged. Formal opportunities to participate will occur in the form of community open houses to be held in mid-October and mid-December. Formal presentations to both the Aberdeen City Council and the Port of Grays Harbor Commissioners are also scheduled for December and will provide another opportunity for dialogue. Meeting notices and other opportunities to provide formal input will be published in advance.

Community members are welcome to forward comments and concerns to the Grays Harbor Council of Governments at any time.

Next Steps
Once the East Aberdeen Mobility Project alternatives analysis plan is completed, the project will move into the design phase. This involves detailed engineering, environmental scoping, permitting and potential mitigation, and potential right of way acquisition. During this phase a targeted effort to acquire commitment of constructions funds will also be ongoing.