Bypass around Rosalia, Washington.
Project Type:Bypass Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:19,774 Length (mi):3.60
Economic Distress:1.00 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):19 Population Growth Rate (%):0.44
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.46 Market Size:15,034 Airport Travel Distance:32.8667 Topography:14
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:WA County:Whitman
City:Rosalia Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:Rosalia
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:47.232891 / -117.358640
Initial Study Date:1982 Post Constr. Study Date:1992
Constr. Start Date:1974 Constr. End Date:1975
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 1975 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):4,800,000 Actual Cost (curr $):20,784,268
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
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NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
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The construction of the US-195 bypass in Rosalia, Washington helped to define its character as a bedroom community serving metropolitan Spokane. It diverted passenger and truck traffic away from the main street, which contributed to a loss of business activity in the downtown. This shift in movement helped Rosalia become a more quiet community and attracted commuters to Spokane by providing a fast north-south route. The bypass may have accelerated the decline of some faltering businesses at the time, however, it has not been perceived as having a substantial impact on the town. The total impact of the bypass is estimated at 5 to 10 jobs.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
US-195 is a 94-mile, north-south highway connecting Spokane, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. The road connects with US-95 and Interstate 90. Rosalia is located about 30 miles south of the city of Spokane. Along the length of the bypass, the only connection is with Merritt Road - a dirt road that runs through farm fields. Aside from reconnecting with the original US-195 alignment at the endpoints, the US-195 bypass around Rosalia connects with SR-271 at the southern end.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Rosalia is a small, agricultural community with a population of 648 (2000 Census). Situated in eastern Washington, the town is surrounded and defined by the rolling hills that comprise the greater Palouse region which is characterized by wheat production and other dry crops.
Rosalia serves as a bedroom community for both Pullman and Spokane. Pullman, home to Washington State University, is located about 42 miles to the south of Rosalia along US-195; Spokane, the largest city in proximity, is about 30 miles to the north. The original US-195 and its bypass are both part of the Palouse Scenic Byway roadway network.
In 1975, construction of the 3.6-mile bypass of Rosalia was completed and the highway was opened to the public. It is a two-lane undivided highway for the length of the bypass, with an interchange at either end of the route reconnecting with the historical alignment. In the planning process (1974), the estimated construction and property acquisitions cost $4.8 million.
Construction of the bypass was not explicitly motivated by economic factors, but instead was intended to provide an unimpeded route to Spokane without the inconvenience of traffic stoppages that would occur by travelling through towns along US-195. With towns spaced in regular intervals of ten to thirty miles along US-195, the bypass of Rosalia was planned to provide for a steady flow of commercial and agricultural movements in the region, avoiding stops, potential congestion, speed limitations, and the associated travel unpredictability.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Prior to the construction of the bypass, US-195 in Rosalia facilitated average daily traffic volumes between 3,000 and 4,500, with approximately 10% of that traffic constituting truck traffic. In 1970, the average daily traffic count at the Spokane County line on US-195, just north of Rosalia, was 4,150. In 1980, that traffic count on the border, reflecting the new bypass alignment, increased to 5,100, with 12% truck traffic. In 2000, the average daily traffic at that location remained unchanged twenty years later; however, the percentage of truck traffic increased to 17%.
It has not facilitated a noted appreciation in volumes, either through normal growth or traffic diversion. However, it has increasingly been utilized by trucks, which is attributable to both the ease of movement and increases in freight volume in the Palouse region. US-195 has been classified as a Strategic Freight Corridor according to the Washington State Freight and Goods Transportation System Road Classification scheme since it facilitates the movement of at least four million tons of freight per year. Much of this freight involves hauling wheat and associated products to market. Because those agricultural products are not extremely time-sensitive, the short time-savings (at most, ten minutes) from bypassing Rosalia has not been of substantial economic consequence to agricultural production or freight movements in the region.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Given that the bypass has diverted most of the through and truck traffic from the town to its periphery, the bypass has enabled the town to become a quiet, isolated "bedroom community" for Spokane and Pullman. However, the bypass also removed traffic that would have previously stopped in the town to shop.
After the bypass development, some stores in Rosalia lsot business and eventually closed, including: two service stations, a tavern, and a grocery store. Several restaurants have struggled and a small automobile dealer moved from the town in 1981. However, local sentiment suggested that the economic sustainability of those businesses was already questionable, indicating that the bypass may only have accelerated their closure rather than initiated it. In summary, an estimated 15 to 20 total jobs were lost since the bypass opened, of which only 5 to 10 could be attributable to the bypass. Other lost jobs are a reflection of insufficient local demand that would have occurred regardless of the bypass construction.
Currently, residents are obliged to travel to another town or city in vicinity to access a grocery store. In February 2009, one resident provided an incentive to attract and retain a viable grocer in town, offering a facility for no rent. Lack of available basic goods, such as a grocery store, has curtailed other businesses development. According to the mayor, if the bypass was not built, the grocery store could have been retained.
Since the construction of the bypass, the business district in town has remained small and land-use patterns have remained unchanged. Some new housing has developed sporadically in Rosalia since construction of the bypass. Although, there has been no residential or commercial development along the bypass route.
Family-owned farms have been merged into larger commercial farm enterprises because of economies-of-scale. This has displaced the population base since alternative opportunities are not readily available in the rural communities. According to the interviewees, this farm-consolidation effect is likely the largest influencing factor on the changes that have occurred in Rosalia rather than the bypass.
WSDOT Eastern Region
Washington State University (Pullman, WA)
Case Study Developed by Wilbur Smith Associates