Port contributes to Gateway Mall rail traffic study

The Port of Grays Harbor will provide $108,642 in matching funds for a $600,000 federal grant to study ways to improve traffic around the Olympic Gateway Mall.

The Grays Harbor Council of Governments secured the federal grant funding for an in-depth study of East Aberdeen traffic, including turning movements, grade separation, pedestrian access and modifications to parking areas for Gateway Mall businesses.

The project will focus on Highway 12 from Fleet Street to F Street in Aberdeen, according to COG documents. The grant-funded study is expected to identify a “best use alternative,” cost estimates, planning specifications and environment plans leading up to construction. It will start this fall and continue through mid-2015.

The project will build on a smaller, $24,000 study performed earlier this year as a joint effort of the Port, city and county.

“In that process, it rejuvenated the idea of an East Aberdeen study that people have talked about for some time but hasn’t happened,” Port Director of Environmental and Engineering Services Marc Horton said.

The study looked at basic engineering and cost projections for two possible alternatives: Dig mall entrances to go under the rail trestle near the Guest House Inn & Suites, or elevate the rail high enough to allow traffic underneath it.

Horton said the preliminary study estimated the first option would cost about $1 million with limited height for large trucks or recreational vehicles, and the second would cost about $12 million.

Engineers working on the more expansive study to come will have design and cost information for two concepts, although Horton said there are likely many more to consider.

“There’s a lot of combinations that might be possible and cost a lot less money,” he said.

The Port also awarded a contract for 10 acres of paving to Lakeside Industries for $2 million. That project will remove gravel from areas used by the Port’s automotive shipping businesses.