IWOW will transform and modernize a critical corridor for our regional economy. By elevating vehicular traffic on Industrial Way and Oregon Way above ground level, IWOW will eliminate three rail crossings so travelers don’t have to worry about being stuck or delayed when a train passes through the intersection. It will also smooth the overall flow of traffic and make the intersection a safer experience for everyone.
When a train passes through the corridor—as currently happens about four times per day—the train blocks the intersection for five to seven minutes. Traffic backups from these intermittent delays then take between 15 and 20 minutes to clear. Removing this train-vehicle conflict saves time and improves safety, especially as train traffic through the area is expected to increase in the coming years.
The two highways that meet here (SR 432 and SR 433) are both Highways of Statewide Significance and part of the National Highway System. The area around the is one of only a few corridors in the state where the highest classification of truck freight, rail freight and waterway freight interact. When combined with other traffic moving through the area, congestion occurs even outside of peak travel times.
Fortunately, improvements to the intersection could decrease peak use delays by 15 to 30 percent when trains are not crossing, and by 40 to 70 percent when trains are present. Improved access benefits everyone but is especially beneficial to the people who work in and around the commercial and industrial areas along the Columbia River.
To alleviate growing demand on the intersection, this project seeks to develop an affordable, long-term solution that:
- Maintains or improves emergency response;
- Improves travel reliability and safety for all users; and
- Facilitates more efficient travel throughout the corridor to support economic opportunities across the region.
The IWOW project will improve access to emergency services and the functional safety of the intersection. PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center is located about one mile north of the intersection and is the main hospital serving the bi-state region. In addition, all four of our local emergency service providers have at least one critical route that passes through the IWOW intersection:
- Longview Fire Department,
- Columbia River Fire & Rescue,
- Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue and
- Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District.
When trains block the roadways, emergency responders are stuck in traffic with everyone else. Fixing the problem is particularly important for patients in Columbia County—all of whom must navigate the intersection to access the hospital—and workers on industrial and port properties who can end up isolated in an emergency.
Travel Reliability and Safety
During peak travel periods, traffic around the intersection backs up beyond designated turn lanes. The freight sector is especially impacted when travel becomes unreliable, and this intersection is one of Washington’s busiest for freight traffic, moving over 20 million annual gross tonnage.
Studies show rear-end and sideswipe crashes happen with more frequency when traffic backs up. One third of the 75 crashes at or near the IWOW intersection between 2012 and 2016 resulted in injury. By improving the movement of traffic and modernizing the roadway, the intersection will become safer to navigate, especially as the amount of traffic traveling through the area increases over time.
Currently, some of the sidewalks in the intersection area are narrow, in poor condition or do not connect to the other sidewalks nearby. This project will install new sidewalks within the project area and close the gaps, making it safer to walk, bike and access transit around the intersection. Bus routes operate along many of the streets near the project area, including routes through the Highlands and St. Helens neighborhoods via Oregon Way. Transit riders, pedestrians and bicyclists will benefit from more reliable travel times, additional sidewalks and better connections to the existing shared use path on the west side of the intersection.
Build for the Future
With growth and development opportunities in the area, traffic volumes in the intersection are expected to grow 40 to 50 percent by 2040, and an estimated 24 and 30 trains will cross through the intersection each day.
If the intersection is not improved, costs and travel times associated with freight truck movement will hurt truck-dependent business operations and pose risks to the financial health of our local industries, Port of Longview, and Pacific Northwest businesses that depend on truck travel through this corridor.
Over its useful life, a new and elevated intersection will save travelers an estimated 24 million hours and $77 million in travel time and associated costs. It will also support the area’s business and employment base, keeping it financially healthy and economically competitive for decades to come.