If you are a Vancouver, WA driver, you know that Fourth Plain Boulevard has a reputation for car wrecks.
Over 300 car crashes were reported between 2018 and 2020 on and around Fourth Plain Boulevard. Be Heard Vancouver cites that part of the problem is that this area features wide lanes and high traffic volumes, which contribute to drivers traveling at high speeds and making it more dangerous for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
As our technology continues to improve, it is a relief to see it being used to secure our roads. In March 2023, the City of Vancouver, Washington, announced the Fourth Plain Boulevard Safety & Mobility Project, which aims to improve safety and reduce car accidents along the busy roadway.
What are the goals of the Fourth Plain Boulevard Safety & Mobility Project?
The Columbian outlines this project’s focus as Fourth Plain Boulevard from F Street to Andresen Road and on Fort Vancouver Way from Mill Plain Boulevard to its intersection with Fourth Plain Boulevard. Updates will include narrowed lanes, added bike lanes and pedestrian crossings and upgrading traffic signals.
The Fourth Plain Boulevard Safety & Mobility Project aims to address these issues by implementing several changes to the roadway. According to the City of Vancouver, these changes include narrowing lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet, adding curb-buffered bike lanes, upgrading traffic signals with pedestrian countdown timers and adding more pedestrian crossings. These changes are expected to improve pedestrian and bicycle access, reduce speeding and cut-through traffic and improve transit and emergency vehicle access.
(image provided by google maps)
Red = Phase 1: West Corridor (2023)
- Fourth Plain Boulevard from F Street to Fort Vancouver Way
- Fort Vancouver Way from Fourth Plain to Mill Plain Boulevard
Blue = Phase 2: East Corridor (2024)
- Fourth Plain Boulevard from Fort Vancouver Way to Andresen Road
What are the leading causes for car accidents in Vancouver, WA?
While these changes seem promising on paper, it is uncertain whether they will be effective in reducing car accidents in practice. To better understand the potential impact of the project, it is important to examine the factors that contribute to car accidents in Vancouver. According to data from the Washington State Department of Transportation, the most common contributing factors to car accidents in Vancouver in 2019 were distracted driving, driving under the influence and speeding.
How does the Fourth Plain Boulevard project resolve excessive speeding and distracted driving?
The Fourth Plain Boulevard Safety & Mobility Project directly addresses two of these factors: speeding and distracted driving. By narrowing lanes one foot below the national average 12 foot width, drivers will have less wiggle room, thus requiring slowing down around the multiple curves in this stretch of road.
Not only will the narrowed lanes reduce speed but in the same way it will improve attention as drivers navigate their space in closer quarters. Upgrading traffic signals with pedestrian countdown timers and adding pedestrian crossings will help to maintain driver attention, as up-to-date traffic signals redirect the driver’s attention to their immediate surroundings, if not already focused there.
Which other cities have safety & mobility projects underway?
As our roads meet the 21st century, here in Vancouver, WA let’s look at a few case studies of similar projects being implemented in other cities around the country. One such project is the Vision Zero initiative in New York City, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024. The initiative includes nearly identical changes to what Fourth Plain Boulevard will see. Vision Zero will see New York City narrowing lanes, adding bike lanes and upgrading traffic signals. While it’s still too early to determine the full impact of the Vision Zero initiative, it will be interesting to see how it develops concurrent with Vancouver’s updates.
Another case study is the Complete Streets program in Minneapolis, which aims to make the city’s streets safer and more accessible for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The program has implemented the same changes as our local project and New York City’s Vision Zero, only Minneapolis also saw new and upgraded transit facilities.
Comparing these case studies to the Fourth Plain Boulevard Safety & Mobility Project, we can see that these changes are not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but they have the same aim. As time passes, Vancouver, New York City and Minneapolis will provide important data to the rest of the country regarding safer implementation of city roadways.
What should I do if I have been involved in a car accident in Vancouver, WA?
It is important to note that these upgrades alone are not enough to guarantee safety on the road. Driver behavior plays a significant role in reducing car accidents. In order for the Fourth Plain Boulevard Safety & Mobility Project to be effective, it will require education and enforcement efforts as drivers get acclimated to the changing roadways.
We share in our communities hope that the Fourth Plain Boulevard Safety & Mobility Project produces a significant reduction in car accidents in Vancouver. But, accidents can still occur due to various factors like distracted driving, driving under the influence and speeding.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident on one of these dangerous roadways, promptly seek legal representation from Vancouver’s trusted Philbrook Law Offices personal injury attorneys. Our experienced team understands the complexities of car accident cases and has supported members of our community through challenging times to great effect.
Car accidents can result in severe injuries, such as broken bones, whiplash and traumatic brain injuries, all of which can have a significant impact on your quality of life. It’s essential to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
At Philbrook Law Offices, we work tirelessly to investigate the accident, gather evidence and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Our goal is to provide you with the peace of mind you need to focus on your recovery.
Don’t wait to seek legal representation if you’ve been involved in a car accident in the Vancouver, WA area. Contact Philbrook Law Offices today for a free consultation. We maintain an additional office in Battle Ground for your convenience.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.