Regional Transportation Planning, Research, Investment Strategies, and Funding.

Clark County’s Aging Population has Important Transportation Needs
The Clark County Commission on Aging has published a report highlighting the results of a years long effort to identify the County’s needs and to highlight potential strategies for helping aging residents access mobility options. This effort was running concurrent with RTC’s study of the residents social service needs and access to transportation mobility. RTC’s Human Services Transportation Plan and project recommendations was approved by the RTC Board in November 2018. Clark County’s Commission on Aging is hosting a community summit on February 21 to share their report recommendations and to foster community dialogue regarding taking action. RTC is a co-sponsor to this event and will participate in the summit.
Major Regional Roadway Connection Completed
Clark County is nearing completion of significant regional transportation system project on NE 10th Ave. When opened for traffic, the corridor will serve as a parallel arterial roadway route, serving local business and residential development growth planned for the Salmon Creek and Fairgrounds / NE 179th interchange areas. RTC was a funding partner to a series of projects in the NE 10th Ave corridor. RTC granted $1 million in seed funding to get the bridge design started on NE 10th Avenue over Whipple Creek (154th St. to 164th St). Design funds were obligated in 2013. RTC granted $1,840,000 for construction, for a total of $2.84 million for the bridge project. In addition, RTC granted $2.46 million on NE 10th Avenue for improvements between NE 141st St. and 149th St. (previously constructed and opened to traffic).
WSDOT Selects Regional Mobility Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently recommended that the Legislature fund one project in Clark County and one project in Klickitat County for a total of $5.22 million in Washington State Regional Mobility Grants. C-TRAN would receive $4.9 million to design and construct an I-5 southbound Bus on Shoulder project from NE 99th Street to the Interstate Bridge. MATS in Klickitat County will receive continuing funding of $320,000 to provide express fixed route service to improve connectivity between counties in the Columbia Gorge Region in both Washington and Oregon.
WSDOT Recommends Pedestrian and Bicycle Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently recommended that the Legislature fund two pedestrian and bicycle projects in the City of Vancouver. Under the Pedestrian and Bicycle Program, the City of Vancouver would receive $489,000 to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on Devine Road. Under the Safe Routes to School Program, the City of Vancouver would receive $500,000 to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood.
Transportation Improvement Board Grants Awarded
The Washington State TIB funds high priority transportation projects in communities throughout the state to enhance the movement of people, goods, and services. The City of Vancouver was awarded $3 million for transportation improvements on SE 1st Street, from SE 164th Ave. to SE 177th Ave. In addition, a total of $445,152 was awarded between Goldendale, White Salmon, and Stevenson to restore road surface at multiple locations.
Skamania Regional Transportation Plan Adopted
The RTC Board adopted a 2018 update to the RTP for Skamania County at its November 6 meeting. The RTP is the long-range, twenty-year, transportation plan. Adoption of the 2018 Plan concluded a year-long process during which Plan elements, such demographic projections and transportation improvements and strategies, were reviewed and updated. The region’s highest priority transportation improvements include enhancement of SR-14 near Cape Horn, SR-14 intersection improvements at Bridge of the Gods and Hot Spring Way, and rockfall protection.
Klickitat Regional Transportation Plan Adopted
The RTC Board adopted a 2018 update to the RTP for Klickitat County at its November 6 meeting. The RTP is the long-range, twenty-year, transportation plan. Adoption of the 2018 Plan concluded a year-long process during which Plan elements, such demographic projections and transportation improvements and strategies, were reviewed and updated. The region’s highest priority transportation improvements include replacement of the Hood River Bridge, All-Weather County Roads, and SR-14 in downtown Bingen.
Human Services Transportation Plan Updated
The 2018 update to the HSTP for Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties was recently completed. The intent of the HSTP is to identify the special transportation needs of people with disabilities, low income, the young, the elderly, and those in rural areas who cannot provide transportation for themselves.
RTC Board Awards $7.6 million to Fund Critical Transportation Projects
On October 2, the RTC Board selected 7 projects to receive approximately $7.6 million in regionally allocated federal transportation funds. Projects will be programmed in 2022, and include funding for arterial improvements along 137th Ave., NE 99th St., and Grace Avenue. Funding will also be used for Bus Rapid Transit along Mill Plain Blvd. In addition to selecting grants, the RTC Board approved the 2019-2022 Transportation Improvement Program, which indicates a funding commitment for approximately $332 million in regional transportation investments over the next four years within Clark County.
Transportation Council Backs Replacement for I-5 Bridge
The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors passed a resolution supporting the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge with high-capacity transit with a dedicated guideway. The resolution, which was passed during the RTC’s meeting Tuesday evening, cites the crossing’s significance to the Vancouver-Portland metro area, the I-5 corridor, the West Coast and the nation, as well as the crippling traffic congestion it’s plagued with.

News Feed

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.

C-Tran approves basic outline for new bus rapid transit line - March 15, 2019
C-Tran’s board earlier this week approved the basic outline for a bus rapid transit line along Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard from downtown Vancouver to just west of Southeast 192nd Avenue – an early step in the process that will allow the agency to start more detailed design work on the bus line, which could open by 2023. The line would travel along the Mill Plain corridor from a new transit center near 192nd Avenue to downtown Vancouver via East Evergreen Boulevard. It would be the city’s second bus rapid transit line, following The Vine, which travels along the East Fourth Plain Boulevard corridor. The “rapid” in bus rapid transit comes from added efficiency. For C-Tran, that means The Vine uses 60-foot buses as opposed to 40-foot buses. Passengers pay before boarding as opposed to when they step on, and the buses can jump in line at some intersections thanks to special traffic lights.
Interstate 5 tunnel: To be or not to be? - March 10, 2019
As predictable as traffic jams heading onto the Interstate 5 Bridge, state legislators are back in Olympia talking about Columbia River crossing options. And like other unchanging, interminable cycles, so returns talk of a tunnel solution to the river crossing problem. Why do we not burrow beneath the Columbia River to solve our metropolitan-area traffic woes, rather than build a bridge above? The tunnel option was explored, most recently, in the early days of the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing project. All indications are it was not a long conversation.
Senate panel OKs $450M for a new Interstate 5 Bridge - March 6, 2019
The state Senate Transportation Committee passed a $15 billion transportation package on Wednesday that includes $450 million for a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River. The project has been a priority for Clark County lawmakers, who have been seeking to restart the process with Oregon to replace the century-old bridge since 2017. The funding would come on top of the $17.5 million Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed for an office dedicated to the bridge-replacement project. “This is another concrete step toward getting this project moving while we work with Oregon to design a planning process and determine the details of a new bridge,” Sen. Annette Cleveland, a Vancouver Democrat who serves on the committee, said in a statement. “This is only a down payment on what a new bridge will cost, of course, but we anticipate funding from other avenues, including our federal and Oregon state partners once we agree on a mutual vision for the new bridge.”
Vancouver seeks more feedback on bike-lane project - March 5, 2019
The Vancouver City Council wants more feedback from residents, community groups and stakeholders before making a call postponing to next year a plan to add protected bike lanes, at the sake of parking spots, along Columbia Street. At its Monday night meeting, the council also asked for more specific information on what the city might be able to do to address the concerns of residents, many of whom were packed into the council chambers. The plan, the Westside Bike Mobility Project, would create three north-south, more bike-friendly corridors – one along Jefferson Street and Kauffman Avenue; Esther, Franklin and Daniels streets; and along Columbia Street – as part of a broader strategy to offer more transportation options for an urbanizing west Vancouver.
Clark Asks: How do highway reader boards calculate travel times? - March 5, 2019
Battle Ground’s Jen Kootstra, now retired, doesn’t make the commute south on the interstate highways in the county as much as she did when she was still working as an engineer for HP. Now, she makes trips south roughly weekly, heading to the 78th Street Heritage Farm, where she’s involved in the Master Gardener program, but she still wonders: How do traffic officials figure out travel time estimates on highway reader boards, such as the one north of Salmon Creek? Kootstra submitted her question through The Columbian’s Clark Asks website feature, where readers can suggest and vote on questions for further reporting.
Vancouver to rethink bike lanes-parking plan - February 25, 2019
After reviewing the city’s plans to build three north-south bicycling corridors in west Vancouver, adding protected bike lanes but removing some parking spots, the Vancouver City Council chose to re-examine options for balancing parking following an outcry from residents. The council chambers were, unusually, packed for the workshop, with residents concerned about the lack of parking options and what they called poor communication on the city’s part. Following the discussion, City Manager Eric Holmes said city staff would provide the council with other options for how it might pursue the first phase of the project, which would involve repaving and adding the protected lanes to Columbia Street between, roughly, Mill Plain to Fourth Plain boulevards.
Westside Mobility Strategy has many moving parts - February 20, 2019
Planned bike lanes up and down Columbia Street are part of the city’s larger Westside Mobility Strategy, a larger-scale city initiative meant to accommodate more means of transportation while balancing business interests and livability. The broader strategy seeks to address traffic planning in much of town west of Interstate 5, and work to reconcile how the walker and horse rider planning of the older city gave way to the car-centric ethos of many American suburban areas, the city says. Planning priorities included improving freight mobility on Lower River Road to Mill Plain Boulevard and Interstate 5; extending 32nd Avenue to Fruit Valley Road; doing more to balance freight and passenger traffic through the heart of the city; and replacing multiple Interstate 5 interchanges.
Proposal for bike lanes raises concerns on Columbia Street - February 20, 2019
A proposal to remove parking from Columbia Street and install protected bike lanes is raising concerns at the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center, where staff worry that the plan will deter disabled veterans who count on convenient parking. The CCVAC isn’t the only group sounding the alarm. Some residents and business owners along the proposed bike lane routes have also expressed worry about how the proposal might squeeze an already-tight neighborhood parking situation. The cycling proposal, called the Westside Bike Mobility Project, would form protected bike lanes along three routes snaking from downtown to uptown Vancouver.
Report: Rose Quarter project would reduce travel times - February 18, 2019
A proposed construction project along a problematic 1.7-mile stretch of Interstate 5 in the heart of Portland would dramatically reduce travel times, improve safety for bicycles and pedestrians through the area, and “slightly reduce” greenhouse gas emissions. That’s according to an assessment released Friday by the Portland and state transportation departments. The two governments released their Environmental Assessment, kickstarting a 45-day public comment period. The report is the most detailed analysis yet of the more than $500 million project to add wider shoulders, merging lanes and cover a section of I-5 through the Rose Quarter broadly between the I-405 and I-84 interchanges. The project includes a new pedestrian and bike bridge over the freeway and other street-level improvement the report says will make it safer for everyone to get around.
Oregon official releases Columbia River Crossing review - February 13, 2019
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has released his office’s review of the history of the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing project, and its recommendations for a more successful next try. The report released Wednesday summarizes the history of the Columbia River Crossing, from the construction of the Interstate 5 Bridge in 1917, to the formation of the two-state Columbia River Crossing project team in 2004 to the dissolution of the project in 2014. The report reviews the various planning, design and political issues that hindered the project’s progress on to its end, when Washington’s Senate turned down a funding package for the project to complement Oregon’s $450 million share, effectively ending the project.
Report: I-5 Bridge is nation’s 29th worst bottleneck - February 12, 2019
The Interstate 5 Bridge ranks as the nation’s 29th worst bottleneck on a top 100 list and the worst in Washington, according to American Transportation Research Institute findings issued Tuesday. The 2019 Top Truck Bottleneck List assesses the level of truck-oriented congestion at 300 locations on the national highway system. The analysis, based on truck GPS data from nearly 1 million heavy-duty trucks, uses customized software and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations to produce a congestion-impact ranking for each location, the institute said in a news release. The institute’s findings show that traveling on the I-5 Bridge between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. traffic flows at 50 mph to 55 mph. Traveling outside that window, as any veteran I-5 Bridge driver knows, and you’re taking your chances.
Washington state to end emissions testing - January 31, 2019
Nearly 40 years after Washington began checking vehicles’ emissions, the program is slated to end on Dec. 31 of this year. As car technology has evolved and cleaner vehicles hit the road, Washington officials have been preparing for the expiration of the law establishing what had been mandatory testing in some of the most populous counties. Starting in 2020, vehicle owners will no longer be required to have their vehicle’s emissions tested before renewing their registration. Vehicles scheduled for testing in 2019 still need an emissions test before they can renew their tabs, according to the state Department of Ecology. “Air quality in Washington is much cleaner than when the program began in 1982, and every community in our state currently meets all federal air quality standards,” the state agency said.
Widening project targets Highway 14 congestion - January 30, 2019
A $25 million project aimed at reducing chronic congestion on state Highway 14 will add lanes to the highway between Interstate 205 and Southeast 164th Avenue, along with a westbound, peak-use shoulder lane for use during heavy traffic. The Washington State Department of Transportation’s plan, which is still in the design phase, would add another lane of travel going both directions, turning the four-lane highway into a six-lane highway between I-205 and 164th. The plan also includes adding a peak-use lane along the outermost shoulder of westbound Highway 14, creating a potential fourth lane between 164th Avenue and Interstate 205.
Working in Clark County: Marc Gross, Interstate 5 Bridge supervisor - January 28, 2019
One could think about the Interstate 5 Bridge as being sort of alive. An Oregon Department of Transportation crew of 10 works inside of the structure’s bridge house, an area not immediately noticeable to any of the estimated 131,000 average daily passers-by going northbound and southbound in the month of December. They man the fort, so to speak, for 12-hour shifts at a time, required to answer the call of a passing vessel within 30 seconds. If the ship needs extra clearance to get beneath the 102-year-old green giant, the crew member needs to raise the bridge’s lift span.
Lawmakers set to tackle transportation - January 28, 2019
With another legislative session underway in Olympia, lawmakers are poised to consider new transportation spending, traffic-enforcement measures and – once again – car-tab fees. Embattled anti-tax activist Tim Eyman collected enough signatures to qualify an initiative that would cap car-tab fees at $30 a year. Lawmakers must now either approve that measure, allow it to go to the ballot or pass an alternative to appear alongside Eyman’s measure on the ballot. Car tabs are a significant source of revenue for Sound Transit, which uses an inflated formula approved by the Legislature to determine the value of vehicles and how much drivers pay for car tabs. That formula has drawn attention in recent years after voters approved the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package in 2016 and some drivers felt sticker shock at their increased car-tab fees.
C-Tran to present option for second bus rapid transit line - January 26, 2019
After months of outreach and deliberation, C-Tran will begin introducing its preferred option for a second bus rapid transit line. The first presentation will take place at Monday’s Vancouver City Council meeting, where the council will get its initial look at a locally preferred option for the line running along Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard. The first Vine route opened in January 2017 and runs along East Fourth Plain Boulevard. Ridership continues to increase, only further encouraging C-Tran to seek a second line. The transit agency reported ridership increased more than 19 percent in 2018 with more than 1.3 million individual trips taken on the Vine. The recommendation from the Corridor Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee is to align the new route with East Evergreen Boulevard in downtown – connecting with the existing Turtle Place stop used by the Fourth Plain Vine – and with a new transit center near S.E. 192nd Ave. on the east side.