Public Weighs Options for Borst Avenue Changes


Improvements on Borst Avenue in Centralia are at least a year away and no concept has been decided on; however, two potential designs were presented on Wednesday to allow for comments from the public.

The first possible design is to make Borst a one-way street with a lane of parking and a 12-foot shared path for pedestrians and bicycles. A 6-foot green strip would separate the pathway and the road. The second option limits parking but keeps Borst a two-way street with a 3-foot green strip and a 10-foot shared path. 

“It’s got to stay a two-way because of the impact it would put on Mt. Vista Road, and Mt. Vista is a marginal street as is,” said Elvin Hirchert, who lives in the area of Borst. 

The main goal of the project is to provide students a safe place to walk to and from school, Lewis County Public Works Director Erik Martin said. The road has for years been considered a potential tragedy waiting to happen as students travel between Centralia High School and Centralia Middle School on the stretch, which has no sidewalks. 

The city of Centralia and the county are both involved in the project because it covers both their jurisdictions. 

“At the end of the day, either project will be a benefit to the community,” said Brandon Johnson, an engineer with SCJ Alliance, the firm hired by the county. 

At the open house on Wednesday, most people were in favor of the two-way street because of the impact a one-way would have on the surrounding roads. 

Ninety percent (44 people) of those who filled out a comment card preferred the two-way option, Centralia Public Works Director Kahle Jennings said. One said the road should be repaved, two were in favor of the one-way option and two were in favor of the project, but had no preference either way. 

It is unclear how much the project will cost at this time, Martin said. The cost of the project will be determined later in the summer when the county and city apply for grants from the state Transportation Improvement Board in August.

Even without a price tag, the city and county are looking for ways to keep the overall cost down, Martin said. For example, the design dimensions are based on the right-of-way already owned by the county and city, so they won’t have to buy space from homeowners. Another way is to have the green vegetative strip between the shared path and the road handle the stormwater so storm drains won’t need to be installed. 

The city hopes to use grants from the state and other sources over the next several years to pay for a range of infrastructure improvements, Centralia Finance Director Bret Brodersen told the city council on Tuesday night at a workshop meeting. 

The projects have already been identified by the city, and now staff is looking for funding sources. The projects range from the construction of the new Salzer Substation located at 201 E. Summa St., to Borst Avenue, to sewer updates on the south side of town. 

Another possible source of funding is for the city to get a low interest loan for these projects, Brodersen said. 

“The current debt market is very favorable for the city of Centralia, he said.  

The city currently running debt below its limit, Brodersen said. However, rates and levels change based on the amount of debt and the interest rates of the time. 

The city council was briefed on possible funding options on Tuesday so when staff has to act quickly in order to secure a grant the city council will have already have knowledge of the current financial situation, city Manager Rob Hill said.