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

Human Services Transportation Plan Update Underway
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. Under current federal law, the HSTP must undergo periodic review. In 2018, the HSTP for Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties is in the process of being updated. For more information, and to provide your input, visit the 2018 HSTP Update web page.
WSDOT launches study to improve safety on SR-500
Traffic backups and delays are no surprise to people who use SR-500 between I-5 and I-205 in Vancouver. To improve safety and travel times on SR-500, the Washington State Department of Transportation is gathering public input as part of a study that will develop improvements to benefit all users of the highway. There are a high rate of collisions near the traffic signals at NE Falk Road/42nd Avenue and NE Stapleton Road/54th Avenue, especially during busy travel times. “With more traffic on SR-500 than ever before, we’re seeing more crashes,” said Carley Francis, WSDOT Regional Planning Director. “We need input from people who use the road to help us make the right investment at the right place.”
WSDOT Selects Bridge Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently selected four local projects to receive approximately $1.84 million in federal funds for local bridge improvements. The bridges to be improved include the Washougal River Bridge (Camas), Lehto Bridge (Clark County), Smith Bridge (Clark County), and Salmon Creek Bridge (Clark County). The local bridge program focus is to preserve and improve the condition of local bridges that are physically deteriorated or structurally deficient through replacement, rehabilitation, and systematic preventive maintenance.
WSDOT Selects County Safety Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently selected two projects in Clark County and one project in Klickitat County to receive a total of $1.96 million from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). Clark County will be making safety improvements at NE 259th Street/NE 72nd Avenue intersection and NE 63rd Street/NE 58th Avenue intersection. Klickitat County will be upgrading curve warning signs. The HSIP program requires that all safety improvements be consistent with Washington State’s Safety Highway Plan (Target Zero).
Region Continues to Innovate with Low-Cost Freeway Improvements
In November 2014, the RTC Board adopted recommendations to address long- and short-term roadway improvements and transit operations in the I-205 corridor, as well a set of operational policies for regional freeway corridors in the region. Regional partners continue to deliver on those Plan recommendations. Since Plan adoption, C-TRAN and WSDOT have partnered to deploy a pilot study of shoulder running bus operations on SR-14. And in addition to completing the NE 18th St. interchange, WSDOT has recently implemented a low-cost restriping of the I-205 and SR-500 interchange merge area to improve traffic flow, and implementation of ramp meters to improve freeway flow will be coming in the near future.
2017 Annual Report
In 2017, RTC celebrated 25 years of regional transportation collaboration across Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties. Over the course of the past 25 years, RTC has awarded nearly $233 million in federal transportation grants to help plan and build needed transportation projects in our community. In addition to distributing grant funds, RTC has led several major planning studies, which have resulted in regional consensus in and investments to serve the region’s rapid growth. Going forward, our region faces many more needs and will find many more growth opportunities. As a collection of agencies committed to community progress and investment, we continue to plan for the future to see what projects need to be done, then work collectively to put those ideas into action.
Using Technology to Improve Traffic Operations
The Vancouver Area Smart Trek 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.
Buses Saving Time on SR-14
C-TRAN’s bus on shoulder demonstration project is now in operation. It lets commuter buses bypass congestion on SR-14 by using the freeway shoulder when mainline traffic is slow. RTC, in partnership with C-TRAN and WSDOT, evaluated shoulder running bus operations as part of the Bus on Shoulder Feasibility Study. Study recommendations included a Pilot Project on SR-14 between I-205 and 164th. C-TRAN and WSDOT developed agreements and operating rules and implemented the 18 month demonstration project on October 23, 2017. C-TRAN has produced an informative video about the project that shows a bus using the shoulder.
RTC Awards $9.4 million to Fund Critical Transportation Projects
On October 3, the RTC Board of Directors selected 11 projects to receive approximately $9.4 million in regionally allocated federal transportation funds. Projects will be programmed in year 2021, and include funding for arterial improvements along Hwy. 99, SE 1st St., Eaton Blvd., and NE 99th St. Funding will also be used for traffic signal and technology improvement along I-205, 134th Street, and throughout the Clark County traffic signal system. C-TRAN will receive funding for electric buses.
In addition to selecting grants, the RTC Board approved the 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program, which indicates a funding commitment for approximately $216 million in regional transportation improvements over the next four years within the Clark County region.
Washington Road Usage Charge Pilot Project
Help Washington explore a potential new way to pay for roads and bridges. Sign up to test a road usage charge where drivers will simulate paying for the miles they drive rather than the gallons of gas they buy.
WSDOT Selects Preservation Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation selected three local projects to receive approximately $5.39 million for the preservation of major local roads. The program awarded funds to the City of Vancouver and Clark County based on their use of pavement management systems. Funded projects are located on East Mill Plain Boulevard ($665,000), SE 164th/NE 162nd Avenue ($1,003,000), and Highway 99 ($3,723,000). Paving will occurring in years 2018 or 2019.
Monitoring Report Indicates Increased Regional Congestion
The 2016 Monitoring Report and its findings were endorsed by the RTC Board at its August meeting. The report indicates congestion has been on the rise for the past five years, and has resulted in a growth in both morning and evening peak hour delay. The major hot spots for regional congestion are at the two Columbia River bridges for travel between Clark County and Portland. The morning peak period shows significant delay on I-5 from Main Street to the Columbia River, on I-205 from SR-500 to the Columbia River, and on SR-14 from 192nd Avenue to I-205.
RTC Selects Bike and Pedestrian Projects for Funding
On August 1, the RTC Board of Directors selected seven bike and pedestrian projects within Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties to receive approximately $1.3 million in federal Transportation Alternatives funding. All were community based projects that expand travel choices, improve the travel experience, and enhance mobility and safety.
Agency Celebrates Twenty-Five Years
Formed in July 1992, RTC celebrates 25 years of regional transportation project planning and grant funding within Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties. RTC’s three-county region has changed a lot over the last 25 years, growing from nearly 290,000 to over 490,000 population. In response to that community growth, RTC has distributed over $230 Million in grant funding for investments and has led several key planning efforts to advance multi-modal transportation projects across the region. A newly published retrospective highlights many of the agency’s efforts and recognizes the collective work of our twenty-four member agencies in addressing the region’s transportation needs.
RTC Completes Bus on Shoulder Feasibility Study
The Bus on Shoulder Feasibility Study looked at the technical, operational, geometric, and policy options for running transit buses on the freeway shoulder during times of heavy congestion. The experience of BOS in other areas of the country found that it can offer a low cost option to improve transit performance and reliability in the region. The study corridors are on SR-14 from I-205 to 164th Avenue and on I-205 from the 18th Street interchange to I-84 interchange. Both were considered good candidates for BOS because they have frequent existing transit commuter service and high traffic congestion levels.
State Selects Regional Mobility Grants
The Washington State Legislature recently selected 3 local projects to receive approximately $6.4 million from the Regional Mobility Grant Program. The Regional Mobility Grant Program funds transit mobility projects to lessen congestion, including new buses, park and rides, and transit service. The funded projects include Hybrid Buses for C-TRAN, Seasonal Weekend Transit Service in Skamania County, and Bi-State Express Bus Service in Klickitat County.
WSDOT Selects Public Transportation Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation selected 8 local projects to receive approximately $2.45 million from the 2017-2019 Consolidated Grant Program. This program funds projects to improve public transportation service, purchase new buses, and improve service for the elderly and persons with disabilities. The funded projects sustains public transit service for elderly, persons with disabilities, and for employment purposes within Clark County, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties.
Regional Transportation Plan Update Begins
The RTP is Clark County’s long-range plan covering all modes of transportation. The current RTP was adopted in 2014. RTC is now beginning an update to the Plan, using 2040 as the horizon year, to be adopted in late 2018. Through 2017 and most of 2018, various topics have and will be considered as the RTP is updated. Those include: transportation policies, changing regional demographics, transportation trends, use of performance measures to evaluate how the transportation system is working, needed transportation projects and programs, as well as a financial plan for the transportation system. For more information, and to provide your input, visit the 2018 RTP Update web page.
Oregon Working Towards Rose Quarter Fix
Representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) briefed the RTC Board on March 7 regarding work now underway to improve traffic conditions and safety at the Rose Quarter pinch-point. The Rose Quarter bottleneck along I-5 may get relief once ODOT plans to improve a section of I-5 between I-405 and I-84 move forward to construction. At the recent RTC briefing, ODOT’s project manager reported that work is underway on the required environmental permitting requirements, and construction could begin once the permits are approved and the project is fully funded. As planned, the project would add auxiliary lanes and extend freeway ramps and shoulders which are projected to significantly improve travel times and reduce crashes in this high-use corridor segment. Additional information on this project can be found in the materials presented to the RTC Board.
Fiscal Year 2018 Unified Planning Work Program Adopted
RTC annually prepares a UPWP to document the proposed transportation planning activities RTC and regional partners will carry out in the forthcoming year. After reviewing a draft at its April 4 meeting and after making the document available for public review, the Board adopted the FY 2018 UPWP at its May 2 meeting. Fiscal Year 2018 begins July 1, 2017, and goes through June 30, 2018. The UPWP is a requirement of a coordinated transportation planning process required by federal and state governments.

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 letter to Oregon on tolls has 7 key points - June 12, 2018
As Oregon studies using tolls – aka congestion pricing – on Interstates 5 and 205 to manage traffic into Portland, C-Tran is asking officials to consider giving public transit a break, or maybe even cut it in on the revenue. C-Tran’s Board of Directors approved a letter Tuesday night that will be sent to the Oregon Department of Transportation. It raises seven points that C-Tran believes should be considered before the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee finishes its feasibility study on tolling the freeways around Portland. Among them, C-Tran wants to know if it would be exempted from paying any toll that’s implemented.
RTC to weigh in on tolling in letter to Oregon officials - June 5, 2018
Members of the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council agreed Tuesday to join the Vancouver City Council in sending a letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission expressing its thoughts on tolling and project development. The RTC’s vote, however, elicited some debate. Some members urged the RTC to take a stronger stance instead of simply requesting future involvement in value-pricing discussions. Clark County Councilor Eileen Quiring ultimately voted in favor of the letter but argued that Oregon doesn’t plan to include Washington in its proposal. “I don’t think they care,” Quiring said. “It saddens me to say that, but I honestly don’t think they care.”
Tolling committee considers consultant recommendations - May 15, 2018
Tolling at the Washington-Oregon state line is tentatively on hold. The 25-member Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee held its penultimate meeting Monday to narrow tolling concepts Oregon is considering, as directed by the Oregon Legislature as part of a $5.3 billion transportation plan. The favorite concept is tolling all lanes on Interstate 5 between Multnomah Boulevard and Northeast Going Street. But that doesn’t mean tolling all lanes on I-5 and Interstate 205 from south of Marine Drive to the merging point of both freeways is off the table.
Vancouver City Council gets primer on challenges facing I-5 Bridge - May 7, 2018
The Vancouver City Council Monday evening took its first tangible step toward restarting a conversation that’s been ongoing for the last several decades: replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge. Kris Strickler, Washington State Department of Transportation’s Southwest regional administrator, gave the council a primer of sorts on the bridge and how past project planning could be used going forward. The presentation largely stemmed from a bridge inventory prepared by WSDOT as directed by the Legislature. Senate Bill 5806 directed WSDOT to prepare an inventory of past bridge analysis and projects and also established a Joint Legislative Action Committee to consider a new I-5 bridge. The committee is tasked with examining mass transit options and making a recommendation on process and financing to both the Washington and Oregon legislatures by Dec. 15.
In Our View: Option 1 for Highway 500 - May 2, 2018
A quick look at the statistics demonstrates why Highway 500 is such a priority for traffic planners. According to counts taken last year by the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the intersection at 54th Avenue sees about 63,000 vehicles a day, and the intersection at 42nd Avenue has about 58,000. That volume of traffic is an invitation for accidents, delays, and general driver frustration. Because of that, the Washington State Department of Transportation is considering three options for mitigating traffic and improving safety along the corridor. Officials will hold an open house to discuss the proposals from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Roosevelt Elementary, 2921 Falk Road. There are no easy solutions.
Long road ahead for I-5, I-205 tolling plans - April 30, 2018
Although Monday evening’s event was the last open house presentation on Oregon’s proposal to add tolls to highways in Portland, there is still ample time to offer feedback, and more time still before anything comes to fruition. The open house, at the Luepke Senior Center, offered guests a chance to review and comment on the Portland Region Value Pricing Advisory Committee’s analysis of proposed tolling plans. “There’s a whole variety of different types of approval that are required for tolling from the federal government,” Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton said. The advisory commission will make its recommendations to the Oregon Transportation Commission, Oregon’s statewide transportation decision-making body, which then has to submit a plan to the Federal Highway Administration by the end of the year.
Open house: WSDOT seeks input on concepts to improve safety on SR 500 in Vancouver - April 24, 2018
Community members who live near State Route 500 between Interstate 5 and I-205 in Vancouver, or people who walk, bike or drive through the area are invited to weigh in at an open house on Thursday, May 3. In coordination with local partners including the City of Vancouver, Clark County, C-TRAN, and the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the Washington State Department of Transportation has developed three proposed concepts to improve safety along SR 500, while maintaining bicycle and pedestrian access across the highway. Extensive public input helped create these concepts that respond to community identified priorities. Public comments will help WSDOT refine and select a preferred concept and seek funding for future implementation.
WSDOT unveils 3 options for Highway 500 - April 24, 2018
The Washington State Department of Transportation is proposing substantial changes at two intersections on Highway 500 and they’re looking for the public’s response to the proposals. Working with local government agencies, WSDOT has released three different concepts for the future of Highway 500 at the intersections of Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road. WSDOT estimates that 30 percent more people are using Highway 500 today than about 10 years ago. But in the last five years, there have been just under 400 crashes on state Highway 500 around the two signalized intersections, according to WSDOT. That translates to about one crash every four days.