The Lexington Bridge was designed to improve access to the unincorporated community of Lexington, decrease congestion along SR 411, and alleviate traffic on the other bridges that cross the river to the south
Project Type:Bridge Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:6,000 Length (mi):0.60
Economic Distress:1.41 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):87 Population Growth Rate (%):1.09
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.36 Market Size:52,752 Airport Travel Distance:52 Topography:21
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:WA County:County
City:Kelso-Lakeview Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:N/A
Impact Area:County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:46.184463 / -122.900444
Initial Study Date:N/A Post Constr. Study Date:2008
Constr. Start Date:2006 Constr. End Date:2007
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): N/A Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):15,300,000 Actual Cost (curr $):16,339,960
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
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NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
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The Lexington Bridge project in Cowlitz County, Washington involved the construction of a new bridge over the Cowlitz River. The project, completed in September 2007, was designed to improve access to the unincorporated community of Lexington, decrease congestion along SR 411, and alleviate traffic on the other bridges that cross the river to the south. By providing direct access to I-5, the bridge reduced commute times from Lexington and has increased its desirability as a residential location. The bridge benefited those living on the east side of the river by reducing the response time for fire protection, thus increasing safety and leading to reduced insurance rates.
To encourage development near the bridge, the town re-zoned roughly 30 acres of land adjacent to the bridge off-ramp from residential to commercial use. In 2007 and 2008 the property was being prepared for the development of locally-serving commercial and service uses. However, because of the uncertain market created by the 2008-2010 recession, new commercial development stopped. To date, the bridge has not produced discernible economic impacts. This is expected to change when the market improves.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Lexington Bridge is a newly constructed bridge over the Cowlitz River located in the unincorporated community of Lexington in Cowlitz County, Washington. Lexington is part of the Longwood-Kelso Metropolitan Area. The bridge connects Interstate 5 at Exit 42 on the east side of the river with State Route 411 on the west side of the river. Lexington is on the west side of the Cowlitz River, four miles north of Longview.
I-5 is the primary north-south highway on the west coast, running from the Mexican border in the south through San Diego, Los Angeles ,Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle, and eventually ending at the Canadian border. State Route 411 on the west side of the river also runs north-south, following the Cowlitz River from Longview-Kelso north 40 miles before merging with I-5.
The Longview area is well-served by transportation modes. In addition to I-5, the county has rail connections to the major cities in Washington, Oregon and California, as well as a marine connection via the Columbia River and the Port of Longview.
There are three additional river crossings in the Longwood-Kelso Metropolitan Area. Two of the bridges are side-by-side in the heart of Longwood, roughly four miles south of the Lexington Bridge, and another is four miles further south.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Lexington is a residential community in Cowlitz County with a population of 4,565 in 2000. Cowlitz Country had a 2000 Census population of 92,948, which increased to 101,966 by 2009 (+9.7%).
Cowlitz, once known as the ?Timber Capital of the World,? has historically relied on the timber industry. The City of Longview was built by timber baron Robert Long, and was the biggest city of the time built with private funds. More recently, the region has developed as a manufacturing and distribution center, but much of the new industries remain tied the timber industry. The 1980 eruption of nearby Mt. Saint Helens has increased travel and tourism in the area.
In the mid-1990's, the county metropolitan planning organization did a River Crossing Study that evaluated growth rates in the region and determined that additional river crossing capacity was needed. The Lexington area already had an existing freeway interchange with I-5 designed for a bridge crossing. The Lexington Bridge project involved the construction of a new two-lane bridge across the Cowlitz River at this location. The project was intended to provide better access to the community of Lexington, reduce travel time between Lexington and I-5, and reduce congestion on other Cowlitz River bridges. The project also improved emergency access routes into and out of Lexington, which was sometimes isolated during periods of high water in the river. Lastly, the bridge provided an opportunity to use the West Side Highway (Route 411) as a detour route.
Cowlitz County directed the design and construction of the bridge with assistance from WSDOT. Planning for the project began in 2001, with ground breaking in the summer of 2006. The bridge opened in September 2007, ahead of the original schedule. The total project cost was $15.3 million ($2006), of which $5 million came from State Nickel Funding, $9.2 million from FHWA, and $1.1 million from Cowlitz County. In 2008, the FHWA and WSDOT awarded Cowlitz County with the 2008 ?Best County Project? for the Lexington Bridge, which was completed under budget and ahead of schedule.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The Lexington Bridge has significantly improved access to Lexington and provided an important connection between SR 411 and I-5 across the river. The bridge has reduced commute times by 10 minutes for residents of Lexington. While the impact has been less significant for those in the Longview area (approximately three minutes reduced commute times), the perception of a faster commute route has encourage many residents in Longview to use the new bridge.
According to an April 2008 traffic count, the average daily traffic (ADT) on the bridge was approximately 6,000 vehicles per day. Prior to the completion of the bridge, the ADT for West Side Highway, just south of where the bridge intersects, was approximately 10,000 vehicles per day. Counts taken at the same location in 2008 after the bridge opened show an increase to 11,565 vehicles per day, indicating that more traffic began utilizing the corridor after the bridge was built.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
After the completion of the bridge, roughly 30 acres of land in Lexington adjacent to the bridge off-ramp was re-zoned from residential to commercial use. In 2007 and 2008, developers began planning for the development of commercial uses for the parcel, including a grocery store, local services and possibly a chain restaurant. However, the 2008-2010 recession halted development plans for the area. Commercial development likely will occur on this parcel when the real estate market improves.
The bridge has made the residential area in Lexington more desirable because residents do not need to commute to work through the congested Longwood area. Additionally, the bridge reduced the response time for fire protection for those on the east side of the bridge from roughly five minutes to two minutes, which substantially reduces home insurance rates. These impacts have yet to be realized in increased property values due to the stagnant real estate market.
To date, no discernible economic impact from the bridge has occurred, primarily due to the ongoing recession. However, when the economy improves, the improved access provided by the bridge will likely spur both commercial and residential development. The land at the interchange that has been rezoned will likely be developed with community-serving commercial uses. The land to the east of the bridge is currently undeveloped. Improved access to the metropolitan area created by the bridge should attract residential development to the area. Additionally, land currently occupied by mobile homes and self-storage facilities could be transformed due to the new bridge access.
American Fact Finder, 2000 and 1990 US Census http://factfinder.census.gov
Washington State DOT, Cowlitz County Lexington Bridge Chosen for Award by WSDOT and FHWA http://www.wsdot.gov/News/2008/10/01_CowlitzAwardLexingtonBridge.htm
Washington State DOT, Project Information ?I-5 - New Bridge between I-5 and SR 411http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/lexingtonaccess/default.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longview,_Washington http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowlitz_County,_Washington
OrganizationCowlitz County Public Works Cowlitz County Economic Development Corporation Washington State Department of Transportation Woodford Commercial Real Estate