The long-planned extension of Log Cabin Road through Olympia’s LBA Woods will likely still happen — but not for several years.
The road’s design is part of the city of Olympia’s seven-year transportation plan, and budgeted at $500,000. Construction of the road, estimated at $10 million, wouldn’t occur until the road is needed.
That could be between 15 and 20 years, said Transportation Director Mark Russell.
In 2016, the city purchased the LBA Woods property in two sections — the 72-acre Brentridge property for $6.9 million, and the 74-acre Trillium property for $5 million — to preserve the area as a park. Housing developments had previously been proposed for both properties.
The city plans to use 2.8 acres of the Brentridge site to extend Log Cabin Road from Boulevard Road, where it dead ends now, east to Wiggins Road.
The Log Cabin Road extension is strongly opposed by the LBA Woods Park Coalition, the group that fought for years to preserve the property as a park. Member Debra Jaqua said the road isn’t in the city’s best interest, and would go against residents’ wishes.
“We’ve grown as a community since (the road) was first suggested,” Jaqua said. “The community is more engaged now. We were able to supply the city with more than 5,000 signatures a couple years ago that reflected citizens’ desire to keep the woods intact.”
The coalition knew about the plans for the Log Cabin Road extension when the property was purchased in 2016, but members hoped that city officials would change their minds, Jaqua said.
“It wasn’t that we agreed with the city’s idea for a road, but we believed that the property was worthy of being saved from construction,” she said.
She said the coalition urges the city to pursue other options.
However, the Log Cabin Road extension is the cheapest option to accommodate traffic in a fast-growing area of the city, Russell said. Any alternative would cost about $50 million, and would require the city to buy property, including existing homes.
Without the Log Cabin Road extension, additional roundabouts would be needed at Wiggins and Hoffman roads. The Morse-Merryman Road roundabout, currently under construction, would need to be redesigned to accommodate two lanes of traffic, he said.
In addition to the impact on Olympia roads, a decision not to build the Log Cabin Road extension would have affect roads in neighboring Lacey and in Thurston County jurisdictions. Yelm Highway, for example, was designed under the assumption that the parallel Log Cabin Road extension would exist, Russell said.
The Olympia City Council held a public hearing Nov. 14 on the seven-year transportation plan. The three people who signed up to speak spoke against the Log Cabin Road extension.
Catherine Brown-Wertz, who lives in the Nottingham neighborhood off Log Cabin, said there’s already too much traffic on the road, and extending the road would make it worse.
“You’re bringing more traffic into an area that’s already bubbling over with too many cars and too many people,” Brown-Wertz said.
Larry Dzieza said he worries that if the city spends $500,000 on road design, it will be harder to back away from constructing the Log Cabin Road extension.
Russell said the Log Cabin Road extension would be built as unobtrusively as possible. It would be a two-lane road with a bike path and sidewalk on the side. The city would make an effort to preserve as many trees as possible.
The design is necessary now so that it can be taken into account as improvements are made to LBA Woods, he said.
Jaqua said that while the city has scaled down its plans for the road, “a road is still a road.”
“Southeast Olympia is an area that is growing, population wise and development wise,” Jaqua said. “These patches of undisturbed, relatively large tracts of land, they’re healing. It’s a relief to be able to go there to get away from city noise, city light, city traffic.
“It’s just such a blessing, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. We need to protect it.”