Transportation Strategy Aims to Improve Traffic Flow and Downtown Vitality

DowntownCorridorYelm, WA — City Council adopted a Downtown Transportation Strategy Plan to improve safety, access, and circulation within Yelm's downtown core while balancing the character of the historic corridor.

The City, in partnership with SCJ Alliance, conducted a Downtown Corridor Study to identify a projects that will improve flow, vitality, connectivity, and safety for all travelers. The projects include a wide scope of improvements from way finding signage to sidewalk replacement and expansion to improve walkability and business access. The plan provides safer pedestrian crossings, additional parking, integration of two major trail routes, and a better sense of place.

“SCJ Alliance provided amazing guidance and knowledge in the plan creation, and resulting concepts for our city,” Associate Planner Tami Merriman said. “This plan establishes the vision for downtown and will act as a template for what the community wants our city to look like going forward.”

Projects are conceptual and currently listed with those with the highest community benefit and lowest cost at the top of the list but the order of the projects can be rearranged or modified depending on community input and grant funding.

While Yelm may still be considered a small city, the population has nearly tripled in the last 20 years and is expected to continue to grow with increased development, new businesses and higher density housing. Main Street not only serves as an economic hub but also as a regional highway, making it a priority of the City to enhance downtown vitality and improve safety and efficiency for all travelers.

Completion of the Yelm Loop project is expected to reduce regional and truck traffic in downtown Yelm, although continued growth will likely bring traffic volumes to a similar level that it is today. To manage continued growth, the City has identified a series of connected routes, permitting mini-loops to minimize traffic on Yelm Avenue. The approved transportation plan assumes that with completion of the Yelm Loop, and creation of mini-loops, additional travel lanes will not be required on Yelm Avenue.

The City has recently made many investments to public parks and civic buildings to keep up with current demand and to provide proper resources for future generations, including the redesign of Yelm City Park and relocation of Yelm City Hall. These improvements helped create a more defined civic center and will act as a catalyst for future projects, providing guidance for street design and land use decisions in the commercial core.

Development of the plan is the result of community input received during multiple public stakeholder meetings, an open house, and through public testimony. The Planning Commission, forwarded the plan plan to City Council with minor changes to reflect ideas and concerns brought up by residents and local businesses.

“One of the great pleasures in developing this plan was working with stakeholders,” Merriman said. “Their perspective, ideas, and concerns established a foundation to revitalize our downtown and created a vision that will benefit new and existing businesses by making Yelm an even more pleasant place to shop and visit.”