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.
- 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.”
- I-5 Bridge bill draws favorable reviews at hearing - March 28, 2017
- A Senate panel heard favorable reviews Tuesday for a House bill intended to restart the process to replace the chronically congested Interstate 5 Bridge. The panel also briefly discussed efforts to reconcile the bill with a companion measure. Lawmakers earlier this month passed House Bill 2095 with a 60-38 vote, and it had its initial hearing before the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.
- Effort to expedite 179th/I-5 interchange funding denied - March 27, 2017
- Local leaders hoping to get funding sooner rather than later to improve the outdated Interstate 5 interchange at Northeast 179th Street suffered a setback after two budget-writing committees in the state Legislature denied their request. In the lead-up to this year’s legislative session, the Clark County Transportation Alliance, a coalition of 28 local governments and business groups, assembled a list of transportation projects they asked lawmakers to prioritize. Included among those projects is a new interchange at Northeast 179th Street, at Exit 9 near the Clark County Fairgrounds near Ridgefield. In 2015, the Legislature approved a transportation funding package that made $50 million available to improve the interchange. However, the package didn’t make the money available until 2023.
- C-Tran, other agencies beta testing efare system using smart card - March 8, 2017
- Now that The Vine has taken root, C-Tran is focused on its next project: changing the way riders pay for a bus fare. Later this year, rather than counting coins and paying in cash, public transit riders through the Vancouver-Portland metro area will be able to pay with a quick swipe of a smart card, bank card or smartphone via an electronic-fare payment system being implemented by C-Tran, Trimet and Portland Streetcar. Last week, 250 regional riders started beta testing the efare system with a smart card called Hop Fastpass.
- Clark County council backs I-5 bridge bill - March 8, 2017
- The Clark County Council on Wednesday joined the list of local governmental bodies that have lent varying degrees of support to legislation that’s intended to jumpstart the planning process for a new Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Columbia River. At its Wednesday afternoon board time meeting, the council voted 3-2 to give its formal support to Senate Bill 5806, which passed the state Senate last month and establishes an Oregon-Washington legislative action committee that will initiate the process to replace the aging, chronically congested bridge. Most of the county’s legislative delegation backs the idea and a House companion bill passed out of the House earlier this month.
- ‘Northwest Passage’ tollway proposal stirs debate - March 1, 2017
- Washington lawmakers aren’t the only ones looking to ease congestion on the region’s roads this legislative session. An Oregon state legislator wants to give local jurisdictions the power to create what he’s dubbed the Northwest Passage — a new tollway west of Interstate 5. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Rich Vial, a Republican who represents Scholls, would allow local jurisdictions to create special districts to build and operate highways. It would be financed through tolls or local taxes and not rely on state or federal money.
- New bypass highway in Washington County? Oregon lawmaker wants to pave the way - March 1, 2017
- A freshman state representative filed legislation Tuesday that would lay groundwork for constructing a new highway west of Interstate 5 through Washington County and up over the Columbia River. Shying away from the much-maligned Westside Bypass moniker, the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Rich Vial, R-Scholls, is giving his dream road a new name: the Northwest Passage. If passed, Vial’s bill would allow cities and counties anywhere in the state to form special districts for entering into public-private partnerships to build and operate limited-access highways.