Roundabout

CAMAS, WA – In compliance with Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation, which allows essential public construction projects to continue, the City of Camas will move forward with planned construction of the Lake-Everett roundabout in the coming days.

As communicated with the public through open houses and outreach, several trees will be removed at the start of the roundabout project. For full project details and ongoing construction updates, the public is invited to visit www.cityofcamas.us/lakeroadconstruction.

Why is this considered an essential project?

The City of Camas says the project is considered essential because without it, the intersection, which includes both City- (Lake Road) and State-regulated (Everett Street/SR 500) roadways, will soon reach failure. This means backups will reach a level where getting through the area will take considerable time and compromise motorist, pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

“We know these are difficult times, and we are continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation and requirements, but we are also confident things will get better,” said City of Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall. “When that happens, the Lake-Everett intersection will once again be heavily used by the community, making this a necessary infrastructure improvement.”

Is funding for the project secure?

Yes, the City has confirmed that funding is still available and set aside specifically for this project by two programs administered by the State of Washington: a Transportation Improvement Board grant and a Public Works Board low-interest loan.

What if the City needs the money for something else?

The City cannot use these funds for anything else, including emergency aid, other projects or support services such as police, fire, parks or utilities. Likewise, the money that will pay back the low-interest loan can only be used for capital projects. It cannot be used for emergency aid, other projects or support services.

How was this decision made?

The City made this decision based on guidance from state and local agencies. Although most residential and commercial construction projects are on hold, the city said this public roundabout project is in line with similar essential construction projects proceeding throughout the county and state during the COVID-19 emergency. The Washington Department of Transportation will continue providing inspection support and oversight.

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The roundabout contractor, Clark and Sons Excavating of Battle Ground, Wash., is ready to begin work and understands its crew must follow all COVID-19 guidance provided by the Dept. of Labor and Industry and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Additionally, suppliers are ready and able to provide the needed equipment and materials.

Three additional City of Camas public projects are continuing as scheduled: improvements to Brady Road, construction of the 18th Avenue Reservoir and construction of the Lacamas Creek Pump Station. Each project provides vital infrastructure for Camas residents and has dedicated funding. For details, see www.cityofcamas.us/projectsalerts.

Public Outrage on Inslee’s Order

When Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared most residential construction projects “non-essential” in his emergency order last week it sent shockwaves across the state, especially because other states (like California and Oregon) designated the construction industry as “essential.”

Local legislators and the local building industry advocates disagree with the order, and have made clear their opinions.

“Washington is the only western state to not include residential building as essential,” said Washington State Senator Ann Rivers. “Our governor’s order is puzzling, something just doesn’t add up. It’s safe for a crew to work on a low-income government supported housing project but not a private home site across the street or even next door? These are difficult decisions, but we must take into account the ramifications of our decisions and do the things that make the most sense. As leaders we must look out for everyone’s health and well being. But, it is also essential that we look out for the people we represent and at the same time empower them to take the steps to assure their own wellness.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) pressed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make a determination about whether residential construction is deemed “essential” in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

On March 28, DHS designated residential construction as “essential infrastructure business.”

“Americans depend on a functioning residential construction sector to provide safe, affordable housing for our citizens, and this need is especially acute during this pandemic,” said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon. “Moreover, a healthy housing market is critical to maintain a sound economy. I commend DHS for heeding the urgent concerns of the housing community and taking this decisive action to assure the men and women of the industry will be able to stay on the job and serve the needs of the American people at this critical time.”

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