Transportation Issues in the News
The following article was prepared by RTC staff. We felt this topic would be of broad interest to our site’s visitors and offer insight into at least one emphasis area of the agency’s current focus. We plan to update these feature articles on a regular basis, so check back for new content!
The Vancouver Area Smart Trek (VAST) program, led by RTC, is a partnership of transportation agencies in the Clark County region that work to improve transportation system performance by collaborating on signal systems, freeway and arterial management, traveler information, and transit signal priority projects through the use of smart technology and the system infrastructure needed to support it.
The VAST program focuses on the non-capital side of regional transportation planning. The VAST agencies (WSDOT, Clark County, City of Vancouver, C-TRAN, and City of Camas) have been cooperating since 2001 to make better use of existing transportation facilities by improving system efficiency and performance without expanding road capacity.
This cooperation has been a valuable pathway for developing and securing funding for ITS/operations projects totaling more than $27 million in federal funding over the last 15 years, resulting in projects that directly improve transportation operations and building the supporting communications technology systems.
Projects funded through the program include central signal system upgrades, new signal controllers, signal optimization, ramp metering, freeway and arterial detection, cameras, variable message signs, and transit signal priority as well as the fiber and network communications infrastructure needed for connecting ITS devices.
VAST collaboration has also led to other successful partnerships. RTC and the VAST agencies have an ongoing partnership with Portland State University in the regional transportation data archive known as Portal. The Portal archive contains, in a single location, historical and real-time transportation data from agencies in the Vancouver-Portland region and can be used by researchers, planners, traffic engineers, and the public to look at transportation performance throughout the region.
Fiber optic networks are vital to communicating with and operating transportation devices in the field for and bringing data back to agency operations centers. VAST agencies have had an agreement in place since 2006 to share unused fiber capacity with each other saving agency costs and resources instead of having to build new fiber routes separately. This agreement has led to 115 miles of shared fiber, saving agencies from $17 to $21 million than if they were to construct their own projects.
In looking to future transportation trends and advances in technology, many experts envision tremendous growth of connected vehicles, which can exchange data with roadside infrastructure, and autonomous, or self driving, vehicles. Forecasts on the impact of these imminent mobility changes vary wildly. RTC, in cooperation with the VAST partners, is starting a conversation with regional stakeholders to make sense of the possible impact on roadways, land use, and transit service and is an area that will be explored in 2018.
Below are an assortment of recent news items related to or impacting local transportation issues. Most of these stories were authored outside the agency, and will take you to a new page on (or PDF document from) an external site.
- New bridge spans an old route - March 16, 2018
- Construction crews reached a milestone last week when they placed long steel girders across Whipple Creek, nearing the goal of connecting Northeast 10th Avenue with 450-foot long bridge. Yet an amateur roadway historian says it's just the latest modifications to a crossing site people have relied on since European settlers began moving to the area. “This has come full circle,” said South Point resident Curt Cunningham, referencing the new bridge's construction. “A hundred years ago, this was the thoroughfare. Now, Vancouver is starting to grow, and this road is needed again. Suburbia has finally met Whipple Creek.”
- WSDOT officials seek input on Highway 500 safety issues - March 1, 2018
- Drive state Highway 500 as part of your commute through Vancouver? Odds are you’ve seen quite a few fender benders. In the last five years, there have been just under 400 crashes on state Highway 500 at the intersections of Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road. That translates to about one crash every four days at two traffic lights less than one mile apart. Now the Washington State Department of Transportation is looking for ways to improve driving conditions on the highway, especially at those two intersections. On Wednesday, the agency launched a study to tackle the problem, starting with a public survey.
- Camas gets grant to fix up bridge - January 28, 2018
- The city of Camas received a little less than $2 million for seismic upgrades to the Third Avenue Bridge. The grant is through the Federal Local Bridge Grant Program, which is administered locally by the Washington State Department of Transportation. The roughly 225-foot bridge carries four lanes of traffic over the Washougal River, said Steve Wall, Public Works director for the city.
- Traffic Patterns See Increase for Bingen in 5 to 10 years - January 24, 2018
- Lots of changes will be coming to Bingen in the next 5 to 10 years, mainly in the realm of traffic. During its Jan. 16 Meeting, the Bingen City Council was given a presentation by Dale Robins of the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council (SWRTC). Robins presented Bingen council a summary of the study conducted by SWRTC, assessing traffic conditions in Bingen and suggesting improvements that will be needed as the population in the area grows. This study included highly trafficked intersections; for example, the Hood River/White Salmon Bridge and Oak Street in Bingen.