What is the Log Cabin Connection?
Log Cabin Road is proposed to be extended to connect Boulevard Road to Wiggins Road in the future. This street connection has been identified as a need for the regional transportation system. The project would create east-west mobility for southeast Olympia and Lacey. The connection would serve motor vehicles, as well as people walking and biking.
The Log Cabin Road Connection Project is included in the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan and the Olympia Comprehensive Plan.
The project is likely not needed for 15-20 years.
Re-evaluating the need for the street connection
Relationship to LBA Woods park and open space
In 2016, the Council authorized the purchase of two large parcels of land known as LBA Woods. These parcels were originally slated to be large housing developments, but the community wanted them preserved as park and open space and the developers were willing to sell the land to the City.
As part of this acquisition process, the City re-evaluated the need for the Log Cabin Road connection through these properties. The need for the road was examined given the change in land use from housing to park/open space. It was determined that the new road is still needed, but further in the future, closer to the 20-year horizon.
As part of the evaluation of the street connection in 2016, traffic impacts of not building the road were examined. If Log Cabin road was not extended between Boulevard Road and Herman Road, modeling shows that traffic in 2035 would increase on other east-west streets, as shown on the map below.
To address the impacts to these other streets, improvements to these streets would need to be made – widening and intersection improvements. Widening Morse-Merryman Road and making improvements to Yelm Highway and 18th Avenue were evaluated and found to be much more costly. Widening of Morse-Merryman would be needed, significantly impacting existing properties and homes.
Relationship to other network improvements
In 2016, City Council approved the purchase of the LBA Woods property and decided to continue to pursue the planned Log Cabin Street Connection. Transportation funds were used to purchase the right-of-way through the property for this future road extension. Council also chose to re-scope the project to reduce the road width, and plan for a street that was more consistent with the park setting.
Because the street was not serving as direct access to homes and other streets, the size and design of the street could be modified to better suit it’s function, serve as park access, and better integrate into the park setting.
The image at top shows the original planned street connection design. After purchase of the land for a park, the street was designed to be more narrow, with a side path for people walking and biking, as shown in the bottom image
Why does the City pursue street connections?
The City of Lacey completed its section of this regional corridor, the Mullen Road Extension, between College Street and Ruddell Road. Olympia’s connection from Boulevard Road to the Lacey city limits would complete this corridor.
The Boulevard/Morse-Merryman roundabout was built with the assumption that the Log Cabin Road extension would eventually be constructed, and Morse-Merryman Road would not be widened.
The Yelm Highway project sized and built by Thurston County was built assuming the east-west connection of Log Cabin Road would be built.
New streets are needed to complete the transportation network and improve the function of our transportation system for people walking, biking, driving and riding transit. As the city grows, street connections are proposed in parts of the City where the blocks are large, and trips are longer and less efficient.
Where the street system lacks connectivity, people have longer routes to get to their destination. When people have shorter trips, it means fewer greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and less traffic congestion. New street connections allow for faster emergency response times, shorter detour routes during construction, and more efficient commercial deliveries.
When we connect-up our city street grid, it is easier for people to walk and bike because trips are shorter. A network of streets distributes traffic and allows us to keep streets as narrow as possible, and intersections smaller. This makes streets more “human-scale,” and easier to navigate on foot or by bike.
The City of Olympia is not currently allocating staff time or resources to this project. While it is identified in the long-term planning horizon, it is unlikely there will be any action on this project in the next 10 years or more.
As the community grows in the next 10 to 20 years, and the need for this connection becomes evident, the City will consider adding it to the 6-year Capital Facilities Plan (CFP), and begin a conversation with the public about the project.
The City Council was briefed on the status of this planned street connection on November 2, 2020. You can view slides from the presentation or watch a recording of Council meeting.