Pedestrians headed to the northern entrance of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge will have an easier time getting there following the opening of a reconstructed Main Avenue featuring a new culvert and sidewalk to allow better access for refuge visitor and fish alike.
Last week barricades on a stretch of Main Avenue were removed which previously blocked traffic between Depot Street and 291st Street. According to a project update from the Federal Highway Administration Dec. 20 the last work included installing guardrails, striping newly-paved road and pouring the sidewalk — by Jan. 4 there was still freshly-laid grass seed visible but overall the road appeared fully functional.
The project was a partnership between the refuge, the city of Ridgefield, Clark County, and the FHWA, according to a project description. About 2,200 feet of missing sidewalk was installed according to the description, and apart from increasing pedestrian accessibility with the sidewalk also involved the project replacement of an undersized 10-foot culvert, through which Gee Creek ran under Main Avenue.
The road had been closed since early July for the project, with the aim to “greatly enhance visitor access” to the refuge’s Carty Unit, according to the project website. With the sidewalk installation visitors will be able to walk from the city to the refuge without having to choose the “dangerous option” of walking along the shoulder of Main Avenue.
Though bikes will still be prohibited on refuge trails, bike racks are planned for installation at trailheads, according to the project website.
Outside of access, the culvert replacement will also alleviate issues with flooding. The project website explained that Gee Creek would often run over top of the old road during heavy rains, though the new roadway is raised and the culvert large enough to stop that from happening. The bigger, 40-foot culvert also allows for easier passage under the roadway.