A road reconstruction project has unearthed an intriguing detail of Chehalis’s past: an old streetcar line.
Many have known those lines were there — mere inches beneath the crooked asphalt roadway of NW Pacific Avenue — but it wasn’t until contractors began work on the section between Park Street and Main that they were able to unearth them.
The project, named the NW Pacific Avenue Roadway Reconstruction Project, looks to reconstruct the entire right-of-way between Park and Main streets, including the construction of new sidewalks, and curbs and gutters.
With these improvements, it’s safe to say the city isn’t planning on implementing any new streetcar lines soon.
“The steel rails that we have encountered so far are nearly centered in the roadway (as can be seen from the asphalt surface as cracks run the length directly above the old street rails), and are only an inch or two beneath the top of the asphalt,” wrote Trent Lougheed, the city public works director.
“The track steel and wood ties will need to be removed prior to construction of the new roadway section”
Chehalis City Councilor Daryl Lund said he believes the rails to be more than a century old.
The rail line also at one point connected the Twin Cities, said Jason Mattson, director of the Lewis County Museum. The museum houses maps and pictures of the old transit carts from that era.
The project, which went out to bid in March, will also install new street lights and roadside trees and make improvements to the area’s stormwater and water utilities.