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!
Roadway congestion is a primary concern facing the users of the Clark County (Washington) transportation system as it adversely impacts quality of life and economic development. In order to evaluate current roadway conditions, assess regional transportation needs, and outline strategies to manage current and future roadway congestion, RTC recently completed its Congestion Management Process: 2015 Monitoring Report.
As the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Clark County region, RTC is required by federal law to maintain a Congestion Management Process. The CMP is an on-going systematic process for managing congestion that provides information and analysis on multimodal transportation system performance and on transportation strategies to alleviate congestion and enhance mobility. The CMP is a vital element of the RTC planning process and is used as a guide to develop project recommendations for the Transportation Improvement Program and the Regional Transportation Plan.
The CMP takes a region-wide approach to identify and address congestion concerns, and develops a “toolbox” of strategies to address the most congested corridors. The 2015 Monitoring Report and its findings were endorsed by the RTC Board at its July meeting. Copies of the full report, summary report and supporting data are now available on RTC website at http://www.rtc.wa.gov/programs/cmp/.
With recent population and employment growth, region-wide traffic congestion has been on the rise for the past five years. This has resulted in an increase in both morning and evening peak hour delay, especially on bi-state facilities.
Overall, the 2015 Monitoring Report shows that the implementation of the RTP can address most of the corridor capacity needs over the next 20 years. This does not mean that congestion will not exist, but through the implementation of additional operational improvements and by addressing localized bottlenecks the region can better manage congestion.
The lack of transportation revenues and regional consensus for the I-5 Bridge replacement, along with other key corridors, is contributing to worsening traffic conditions. Lack of progress on select projects will result in delay in achieving the project benefits and add to future project costs.
The CMP and RTP identify the need for the following key solutions to address congestion within Clark County.
- In the RTP and Funded:
- I-5/Mill Plain Interchange (2026 Construction)
- SR-502 Widening (Under Construction)
- NE 18th Street Widening, 112th to 164th Avenue
- Partial funding only: 18th St, Four Season to 136th Avenue (2017 Construction)
- Padden Parkway Intersection Improvements
- Partial funding only: Padden/94th Avenue Intersection (Under Construction)
- In the RTP but Not Funded:
- I-5 Interstate Bridge and interchanges
- I-5/I-205/SR-500/SR-503 Corridor Operational Improvements
- I-205, SR-500 to Padden Widening
- I-205/SR-14 Interchange
- SR-14, I-205 to 164th Avenue Widening
- SR-500/42nd & 54th Avenues Grade Separation
- Fourth Plain, 117th to 164th Avenues Operational Improvements
- Mill Plain, I-205 to 192nd Avenue Operational Improvements
- NE 112th Avenue, 49th Street to SR-500 Operational Improvements
- Bi-State Transit Expansion/Operational Improvements
- Other Select Intersection Improvements
- Other Select Operational/Capacity Improvements
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.
- Inslee signs bridge bill - May 10, 2017
- With a swipe of his pen, Gov. Jay Inslee made it official on Wednesday: Southwest Washington legislators will renew conversations around how to ease traffic on the congested Interstate 5 Bridge. With the implosion of the Columbia River Crossing project still fresh in legislators’ minds, Senate Bill 5806 treads lightly. As Inslee stated while signing the measure into law, it launches a process to start planning how to replace the 100-year-old bridge. The governor said he’s hopeful it will be a process that includes both Washington and Oregon. “I believe it’s important for both states to come together to figure out the next bridge across the river,” Inslee said.
- Money for Camas Slough bridge improvements could be headed down the road - May 3, 2017
- The $25 million that Washington legislators set aside to widen the Camas Slough Bridge could be headed a few miles west for a project to to widen SR-14 between Interstate 205 and SE 164th Avenue. Officials said widening SR-14 would relieve congestion during commutes, which is a more pressing issue for people in Camas, Washougal, and East Vancouver.
- Data: Rush hour traffic gets worse - May 3, 2017
- The regional economy is going strong and the cities of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon are growing, but all that activity is making the work commute in Clark County a nightmare. Data collected last year by the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council show delays between Vancouver and Portland have increased, travel times on major arterials are less reliable, major arterial congestion is getting worse and so are delays at major intersections. Driving conditions are the worst during the peak morning and evening commute periods.
- Inslee urges SW Washington to agree on an I-5 Bridge effort - May 2, 2017
- Despite a lukewarm response from across the river after Washington lawmakers approved a measure to address the chronically congested crossing over the Columbia River, Gov. Jay Inslee is hopeful Oregon will eventually get behind a replacement Interstate 5 Bridge project. “If you have a job in (Oregon), you want those workers to get to Portland, even if they reside here,” Inslee said on Tuesday while speaking to a member of The Columbian’s Editorial Board. “So I would characterize it as both sides should have an equal interest in getting this project done.” But Inslee cautioned nobody has the desire to repeat the past when Washington walked away from the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing project in 2013 after years of planning.
- High-speed rail to be focus of state study - April 26, 2017
- The Pacific Northwest has long been united on many fronts. From Vancouver, B.C., to Seattle to Portland, government leaders often reflect their region’s progressive ethos. Gov. Jay Inslee is hoping someday the cities could be even more connected by a train traveling at speeds faster than 250 miles per hour between Vancouver, B.C., and Portland, with a stop here, connecting the cities’ people, cultures and perhaps most importantly, economies. Although there’s long been talk of integrating the region by a high-speed rail line, this year the state Legislature has carved out $300,000 in the state’s transportation budget to begin studying the costs and benefits of a new rail system. Private-sector partners, which have not yet been named, are expected to supplement the funding.
- I-5 Bridge bill finds support in Olympia - April 6, 2017
- A measure addressing the region’s most divisive topic — how to replace the 100-year-old Interstate 5 Bridge — passed the Statehouse in Olympia on Thursday, clearing the pathway for it to land on the governor’s desk. “This bill has had a long journey,” Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, told her colleagues on the House floor Thursday while urging them to support the measure. The bill doesn’t create a project. But, Wylie continued, it “starts the conversation. It utilizes some of the work done in the past to get us to a point where we can replace the Interstate 5 Bridge and it also includes a process to look forward at other bridges in the future.”