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Reinventing the Multiway Boulevard at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

As part of JBLM’s overall vision for the city, the downtown portion of Pendleton Avenue was transformed into a “great street” — a multiway boulevard—one of only two such boulevards that currently exist in the state of Washington.

With over 87,000 acres in the Puget Sound region, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) is one of the largest military bases in the country. Pendleton Avenue, a previous farm-to-market road, is the main thoroughfare that connects the core downtown region of JBLM to the surrounding industrial, retail, commercial, medical, and housing areas of the base. As part of JBLM’s overall vision, the downtown portion of Pendleton Avenue was transformed beyond a traditional roadway widening project into a grand multiway boulevard.

Inspired by the multiway boulevards in Paris, Italy, and California, Pendleton Avenue is one of only two multiway boulevards that currently exist in the state of Washington. A fairly new design concept originating in Europe, the movement is picking up in densely populated cities throughout California as sustainable design studies continue to propagate the value-added benefits and community enhancement features of multiway boulevards. These boulevards separate through-travel lanes from local access lanes to simultaneously move vehicles while providing a calm, spacious pedestrian and living environment for adjacent businesses and residences. By the nature of its design, it reduces traveler speeds and transforms roadways into livable, enjoyable, and safe places, adding tremendous value to the project and community it serves.

The Pendleton Avenue roadway improvements include a slow-moving access lane, parallel parking stalls, and a gracious tree-lined, wide sidewalk. This configuration provides a wide buffer between the auto-oriented arterial traffic and pedestrians strolling alongside storefronts. The side access lanes also accommodate bicycle users and can be blocked off for community gatherings, such as parades and fairs. During the planning and design of the Pendleton multiway boulevard project, JBLM committee members advocating for safer pedestrian accessibility noted that JBLM has double the proportion of disabled children compared to a typical city’s population. Therefore, the design focus of this project was particularly centered on Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and pedestrian mobility and access.

In recognition of the project’s achievements, the project was recently honored with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington 2015 Engineering Excellence Bronze Award.