Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council

Transportation Issues in the News

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.

Dream of high speed rail in the Northwest may finally be on the horizon - November 22, 2021
In August, Charlie Hamilton trekked from Seattle to Spokane, evangelizing a two-decade-old idea to resurrect an east-west passenger rail route. The proposal would link fast-growing cities like Ellensburg and Yakima via Washington’s Stampede Pass. At some stops, only a handful of attendees came out to hear the pitch. At others, larger crowds gathered, and residents spoke up about the need for more transit services for rural areas. “Interestingly, the places we had the most response were the smaller communities,” said Hamilton, co-executive director of All Aboard Washington, a train advocacy group. And Seattle or Spokane wasn’t always the final destination people wanted to reach, Hamilton heard. “It was also about going to Yakima, because even in Toppenish there’s not a whole lot of transportation options,” Hamilton said. ‘The other piece: Everyone is concerned about the environmental needs, the tipping point. If we are going to survive, we have to turn around the carbon situation in the next decade. Time is running out.”
I-5 Bridge panel considers grants - November 19, 2021
The Interstate Bridge Replacement program is assessing grant options from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Joe Biden on Monday. The program, called the IBR, is also looking at tolling options, and although there’s lots of research and studies to be done and no decisions have been made, a variable pricing model that changes price throughout the day appears to be the front-runner in options. On Thursday, members of the program’s Executive Steering Group heard an update on the IBR’s progress, which is still in early stages. Members of the group include Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Port of Vancouver CEO Julianna Marler and other Washington and Oregon transportation and government officials. The three grant options from the federal infrastructure bill include the $15.8 billion Competitive Bridge Investment Program, the $10 billion National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program and the $23 billion FTA Capital Investment Grant New Starts Program.
Cantwell: Interstate 5 Bridge ‘big thing’ for federal infrastructure funds - November 10, 2021
Improvements to Washington’s infrastructure are on the way, with special attention being paid to the Interstate 5 Bridge. Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package Friday, with $550 billion in infrastructure investments over the course of five years. The exact amount Washington will receive is unknown, but it is assured that the state will receive at least $8.59 billion and likely billions more from programs in the future. “A big thing is the Columbia River bridge and crossing,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in an interview Tuesday. She said that since the crossing is a major connector that is critical to national and regional significance, it qualifies as a megaproject for the state.
Video shows what earthquake would do to Interstate 5 Bridge - November 9, 2021
The group tasked with building a new Interstate 5 Bridge has created an animated video of the current bridge collapsing in an earthquake. It hopes the video, which it has shared on social media, will bring awareness to the need for a new bridge. The video shows digital piers rotating in the sand, road sections collapsing like dominos, towers with counterweights buckling and collapsing, and a wave of water radiating from the wreckage. Program team members from the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program created the video, said Kelliann Amico, program spokeswoman. “The IBR is bringing awareness to how the bridge will react in a seismic event and why replacement is essential and how to anchorage preparedness by sharing an animation of what could happen to the interstate bridge area during a magnitude 8-plus Cascadia Zone earthquake,” said Ray Mabey, assistant program administrator.
How should new I-5 Bridge be laid out? Program wants your input - November 4, 2021
Three options for the layout of a new Interstate 5 Bridge are under consideration by leaders of the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program: a curved twin span, a straight twin span and a straight stacked alignment. The plans were discussed last week during a Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee session. Program administrator Greg Johnson is whittling down options for the bridge and seeking public input in November and December. By the first quarter of next year, the program leaders hope to have a refined plan.
C-Tran might lower its fares - November 4, 2021
C-Tran is considering lowering its rates next year, a temporary measure meant to help those who rely on public transit, and also because tax collections exceeded its projected budget for 2022. Stimulus funding also helped C-Tran’s financial goals. The rates, effective only in 2022, will see the local fare drop from $1.80 per adult ride to $1. Express fares would drop from $3.85 to $2.50 per adult ride, honored and youth fares would be discounted, and C-VAN fares would drop from $1.80 to $1. C-Tran is seeking public feedback before the rate cuts are made.
Transit, tolls biggest issues in I-5 Bridge replacement project - October 5, 2021
Will Washington and Oregon be able to avoid the problems that plagued their last attempt to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge? Transportation officials are working diligently to ensure it happens. Roger Millar, Washington’s secretary of transportation, met recently with The Columbian Editorial Board to talk about the bridge replacement project and the future of transportation in Clark County. He was joined by Greg Johnson, program administrator for the Interstate Bridge Replacement project, and Carley Francis, Southwest region administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “I think it’s going along very well. There are still questions and concerns. One thing we are telling everybody is this region cannot afford to let perfect be the enemy of good,” Johnson said. “We’re putting a lot of effort into community outreach and making sure that we are keeping people informed as we go along.”
Ridgefield Celebrates Rail Overpass Completion - October 1, 2021
The Port of Ridgefield celebrated the completion of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass on Sept. 11 with its Sneak to the Peak event. Although the overpass wouldn’t officially open for another week, the port’s event coincided with other community events billed as “Ridgefield’s Really BIG Day”. On Sept. 17, vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists could all make the trek across the overpass. The project was big on vision and a long time in-the-making.