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.

State to remove Highway 500 signals - August 14, 2018
The Washington State Department of Transportation is moving forward with a plan to remove the traffic signals from Highway 500, replacing the intersections on Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road with right in/right out interchanges. WSDOT broached the topic earlier this month, but formally announced the plan on Monday, said Regional Planning Director Carley Francis. The project’s aim is to reduce collisions at the two intersections, especially rear-endings — currently a major problem in an area where “folks anticipate a free-flow design corridor,” Francis said. The new traffic layout is expected to reduce crashes in the area by 70 percent.
Coming soon! Safety improvements to change how you travel SR 500 in Vancouver - August 13, 2018
In response to input from thousands of people during a safety study conducted earlier this year, the Washington State Department of Transportation has selected a Right In, Right Out design to improve safety on State Route 500 at Northeast Falk Road/Northeast 42nd Avenue and Northeast Stapleton Road/Northeast 54th Avenue in Vancouver. In collaboration with the City of Vancouver, Clark County, C-TRAN and the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the design was chosen because it balances significant safety improvements to SR 500, while maintaining some connectivity to SR 500 from local streets. “With nearly 400 crashes occurring on SR 500 near these intersections over five years, we believe it’s our responsibility to do something to improve safety,” said Carley Francis, WSDOT Southwest Region Planning Director. “These improvements are relatively low cost, can be implemented rather quickly, and will significantly improve safety on SR 500.”
I-5 Bridge ‘tough topic’ in transportation plan - August 5, 2018
The thorny subject of replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, Southwest Washington’s most divisive piece of infrastructure, has not escaped the attention of the state’s long-term transportation planners. The bridge is the first issue discussed in the “Tough Topics” section of the draft Washington Transportation Plan — 2040 and Beyond, a long-term transportation plan created by the Washington State Transportation Commission. “Replacing this vital economic link with new infrastructure is daunting in terms of scope, coordination, environmental mitigation and cost, but those challenges pale next to the issues we face if this connection is severed,” the document states. The planning document takes a high-level view of the entire state’s transportation future and, from a policy perspective, six statutorily-mandated transportation goals promoting economic vitality, mobility, safety, preservation, environmental health and stewardship. It is part of a regular update to the Commission’s 2035 plan, which was adopted in 2015.
WSDOT has a plan for state Highway 500 - August 2, 2018
The Washington State Department of Transportation has a proposed solution to make two crash-prone intersections on state Highway 500 safer and more efficient for drivers — possibly within a few months — but once the work is over, some pedestrians will likely have to wait for years before they can walk across the highway again. The agency is proposing turning the intersections of Highway 500 and Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road into right in/right out interchanges. The traffic lights would be removed and the highway reconfigured. A median barrier would be built through the intersections, and the merge lanes would be reconfigured to give drivers more time to enter the highway and enforce the right-off turn. Taking a “left turn” from either intersection would require turning right on Highway 500 then making a U-turn at either Northeast St. Johns Road or Northeast Andresen Road. WSDOT is looking at beginning the reconfiguration process this fall before the rain begins, but that is still far from certain.
Port, pols celebrate West Vancouver Freight Access project - July 31, 2018
Port of Vancouver administrators, along with political and industry leaders, stood atop a small stage in a largely vacant marine terminal Tuesday morning to celebrate the completion of the $251 million West Vancouver Freight Access project. “We are building transportation infrastructure in this part of the state because this part of the state is integral to the economic growth of the entire state,” Gov. Jay Inslee told the crowd. “This project is as important to the economic development of Bellingham and Spokane as it is Vancouver.” Throughout the celebration, workers rushed newly imported Subarus into an awaiting freight train in the background and heavy equipment and engines groaned in the distance. “It really underscores what we do here and why we’re here today,” said port Commissioner Eric LaBrant.
Construction on Northeast 119th Street ‘one bite at a time’ - July 30, 2018
Whenever Robin Washington, a project manager with Clark County Public Works, is asked why the improvements on Northeast 119th Street are taking so long to build, she likens it to another large undertaking. “I ask people, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’” she said. “One bite at a time.” Now the county is finishing one bite and is starting on another as it continues its multiyear project to upgrade Northeast 119th Street from a two-lane country road with no sidewalks or bicycle lanes to an arterial intended to accommodate growing suburbanization.
Commuters consider cost, implications of tolls - July 25, 2018
At 3:20 a.m. every Monday through Thursday, Mike Coffman departs from his Vancouver home for his 4 a.m. shift at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland. He used to work at 6 a.m., but by then the traffic was prohibitive, he said — Coffman much prefers knowing that he can make it in 40 minutes, even tucked within the convoy of overnight freight haulers. A locksmith and carpenter coordinator at the hospital for more than 30 years, Coffman is one of the estimated 70,000 Clark County residents who commute to work in Oregon, and who count on the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 bridges to make it into work.
4 Tweaks To Sell Southwest Washington Commuters On Portland Tolls - July 13, 2018
Oregon’s Transportation Commission met Thursday to hear public input on a proposal for implementing tolls to reduce congestion on Interstates 5 and 205 through Portland. One key question: whether politicians in Southwest Washington will accept the plan. An advisory committee has proposed first testing tolling on a portion of Interstate 5 through downtown Portland and on the Abernathy Bridge between Oregon City and West Linn. Under the plan, there would eventually be tolling along both I-5 and I-205 between the state line and their intersection near Tualatin. The proposal faces stiff opposition north of the Columbia River. In Clark County, roughly half of the population commutes to Oregon for work.
Portland pushes immediate tolls on I-5, I-205 - July 11, 2018
Southwest Washington officials were dismayed Wednesday to learn that the Portland City Council is pushing for immediate tolls on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 in lieu of a proposal to phase in tolling on a few sections of the interstate. The council’s position was outlined in a letter sent to the Oregon Transportation Commission in advance of a special public hearing Thursday as the commission considers a recommendation from the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee last month. Clark County Councilor Eileen Quiring, who served on the 25-member advisory board, said she’s not surprised to learn about Portland’s renewed tolling platform, given Portland’s previously expressed views on tolling. “I’m saddened to see this, but it’s just frustrating watching,” Quiring said, “because we just don’t have a very loud, effective voice.”
Bridge Update - June 30, 2018
The Port of Hood River is working to get the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge replaced as quickly as possible. At its current pace, a new bridge could be in place by 2025, but the port and representatives from both sides of the river hope to finish it sooner. The port commission most recently held a work session with local stakeholders to go over the process of submitting a Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS), which must be completed before the project can move forward. The port is currently in the process of finishing the FEIS and other National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements.
County growing, but not as fast - June 27, 2018
Clark County’s population is still growing at a fast clip, but the growth rate may have reached its peak. The county gained an estimated 8,500 people and grew 1.8 percent between April 2017 and April 2018, making it only the eighth fastest-growing county in Washington, according to data released Tuesday by the state Office of Financial Management. An estimated 479,500 people live in Clark County. Franklin and Benton counties, which make up the Tri-Cities, along with Snohomish and Skagit counties north of Seattle, were the fastest-growing. Historically, Clark County has been among the state’s fastest-growing places. The other faster-growing counties this year were Kittitas (Ellensburg), Whatcom (Bellingham), and San Juan.
Committee OKs limited I-5, I-205 tolls - June 25, 2018
A committee of government officials and other leaders from across the region signed off on Oregon’s plans to toll limited sections of Interstates 5 and 205 in the Portland metro area as part of a strategy to relieve congestion. The decision made Monday by the Portland Region Value Pricing Advisory Committee is another step in a yearslong process that still needs to be approved by the federal government. While the decision could mean a more expensive commute for Clark County residents, the committee was split on a more ambitious tolling scheme. The committee also adopted some conciliatory measures for Clark County after residents and officials complained that the plan treated them as Oregon’s piggy bank.