Urban Corridors

What Are Urban Corridors?

Urban corridor in OlympiaUrban Corridors are an integrated land use and transportation concept. Urban Corridors are the major arterials in our regional street system. Because they were originally built as state highways, many areas along these corridors are characterized by low density residential housing and strip commercial shopping.

Corridors are served by frequent transit service, and, in many areas, have the potential to transition from auto-oriented corridors to walkable areas with nodes of activity.

Urban Corridors in the Thurston Region

Residents of the Thurston Region envision vibrant and walkable city centers in Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater that serve as the community’s heart. Along the major transit corridors that connect these centers, residents want activity nodes that encourage active transportation and serve surrounding neighborhoods with additional housing, jobs and services. To help achieve this vision, the Thurston region has developed strong land-use and transportation policies centered on our Urban Corridors.

A goal of the Creating Places, Preserving Spaces, Sustainable Development Plan for the Thurston Region, is that by 2035, 72 percent of all (new and existing) households in our cities, towns, and unincorporated growth areas will be within a half-mile (comparable to a 20-minute walk) of an urban center, corridor, or neighborhood center with access to goods and services to meet some of their daily needs.

To support this vision, higher density residential and commercial land uses - relative to the current condition - are proposed within a quarter mile on either side of the corridor. This is consistent with recommendations made by the Urban Corridors Task Force, which the Thurston Regional Planning Council convened in 2009. Members included policy makers from Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, Thurston County, Intercity Transit, North Thurston Public Schools, citizens and business representatives. After three years of study, the Task Force completed a one-page summary, and a full report, presenting their recommendations for overcoming barriers to achieving more compact, transit-supportive land-use patterns along the Urban Corridors.

On November 5, 2012, the Olympia City Council adopted a joint resolution with Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County, agreeing to take a leadership role in pursuing the vision and recommendations of the report. These jurisdictions will work extra hard to create vibrant, attractive mixed use centers with great amenities and convenient walking, biking and transit services.

The Task Force report is consistent with the policy direction of Olympia's Transportation Mobility Strategy. The Bus Corridor concept introduced in this strategy is in keeping with the region's Urban Corridor vision. See Appendix C for information on Bus Corridors.

Olympia’s Urban Corridors

Olympia's goal is to achieve more infill and redevelopment, especially housing, along the Urban Corridors. Land uses supported by a multimodal transportation system, and vice versa, enable people to minimize care trips by living close to services, work and commuting options.

  • East 4th Avenue
  • State Avenue
  • Martin Way
  • Harrison Avenue
  • Cooper Point Road
  • Black Lake Boulevard
  • Capitol Way

All of these arterials are considered First Priority Bus Corridors for high-quality transit and Strategy Corridors for multi-modal transportation options. However, not all arterials have a corresponding 'Urban Corridor' land use designation in the draft Comprehensive Plan Update. See the Transportation Corridors Map for details.

Urban Corridors are envisioned to gradually redevelop into areas with:

  • Well-designed buildings that front the street with street-level windows and welcoming entrances
  • Wide sidewalks, street trees, landscaping and benches that make the street safe, comfortable and interesting
  • Retail businesses, restaurants, and other commercial uses mixed with libraries, schools, clinics and other services that meet the daily needs of and provide jobs for nearby residents
  • Frequent and convenient bus services that makes the bus more appealing than driving
  • Streets that are human scale and oriented towards people, not dominated by cars
  • Vehicle traffic that is slow but moving, so that the presence of traffic has a low impact to people on the sidewalk and in the buildings
  • A mix of residences including apartments, townhouses, and small cottages at a density that supports the nearby businesses
  • Carefully designed streets and buildings off the corridor that help to transition from the mixed, active areas to quieter residential neighborhoods

Additional Resources


Transportation Questions : Sophie Stimson, 360.753.8497, sstimson@ci.olympia.wa.us

Community Planning Questions: Amy Buckler, 360.570.5847, abuckler@ci.olympia.wa.us