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

I-205, 18th Street interchange opens
After more than a decade of work, the new Interstate 205 Mill Plain Interchange to Northeast 18th Street was declared officially open Wednesday afternoon. Staff members of Washington’s federal delegation, legislators from the 17th and 49th Legislative Districts, a staffer from the governor’s office, transportation officials and Vancouver officials gathered on the 18th Street offramp for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. The occasion celebrated the new interchange, and officials congratulated the Washington State Department of Transportation on completing the project. “This has been a long time coming. It’s the end of an era,” said Bart Gernhart, WSDOT assistant regional administrator, referencing the interchange’s status as the final project in Clark County to be completed with the state 2005 Transportation Partnership Program funding packages.
Monitoring Report Indicates Increased Congestion
The 2015 Monitoring Report and its findings were endorsed by the RTC Board at its July meeting. The report indicates congestion has been on the rise for the past five years, and has resulted in an increase in both morning and evening peak hour delay. The major hot spots for regional congestion are at the Columbia River bridges for travel between Clark County and Portland. Morning peak hour delay has significantly increased on the I-5 South corridor, with a backup regularly extending from the I-5 Columbia River Bridge north to Main Street.
Clark County Completes Hazel Dell–Felida Traffic Signal Optimization Project
Clark County recently completed the upgrade of traffic detection and coordination of traffic signals to improve traffic flow in the Hazel Dell-Felida area. The project was implemented using $378,000 in federal CMAQ funds that were awarded by RTC.
Clark County Completes Barberton Traffic Signal Optimization Project
Clark County recently completed the upgrade of traffic detection and coordination of traffic signals to improve traffic flow in the Barberton area. The project was implemented using $707,300 in federal CMAQ funds that were awarded by RTC.
Vancouver Regional Transportation Issues the Focus of June 15 Meeting
The Washington State Transportation Commission was in Vancouver to meet with local officials and business leaders to learn about the region’s transportation issues, challenges and successes. Read about it here.
WSDOT Completes SR-14 Traveler Information
WSDOT recently add a communications link, traffic detection, and roadway cameras to provide additional traveler information along SR-14, from SE 164th Avenue to NW 6th Avenue. The project was constructed using $679,375 in federal CMAQ Program funds that were awarded by RTC.
WSDOT Completes SR-503 Traveler Information
WSDOT recently add a communications link, traffic detection, and roadway cameras to provide additional traveler information along SR-503, from NE 119th Street to SR-502. The project was constructed using $760,000 in federal CMAQ Program funds that were awarded by RTC.
Fiscal Year 2017 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 5 meeting and after making the document available for public review, the Board adopted the FY 2017 UPWP at its May 3 meeting. Fiscal Year 2017 begins July 1, 2016, and goes through June 30, 2017. The UPWP is a requirement of a coordinated transportation planning process required by federal and state governments.
RTC to Study Bus Use of Freeway Shoulders
RTC is embarking on a study to evaluate the feasibility of transit vehicles using freeway shoulders on parts of SR-14 and I-205. Allowing buses to travel on the shoulder during times of heavy traffic congestion is an approach that has been used successfully for about 50 years in different areas of the United States. Experience has shown that this strategy can improve transit without impairing mainline traffic and provides the opportunity for a low cost option to boost ridership and make transit more efficient.
Clark County Population Climbs Rapidly
Clark County’s estimated population has risen to 459,495 residents, as growth resumes in the area. Between 2014 and 2015, the county grew by 2 percent, netting 9,054 new people, according to data released from the Census Bureau.~ The Columbian
RTC will be reporting annual traffic conditions later this spring as part of its Congestion Management Process. Stay tuned to see how this rapid rise in population has affected regional transportation conditions.
GMA Certification Process Guide and Checklist Adopted
As the state-designated RTPO for the region that includes Clark County, RTC has certain responsibilities under the state’s Growth Management Act. These responsibilities include certification of the transportation element of local Comprehensive Plans. On March 1, the RTC Board adopted a Guide to RTC’s Certification Process that clarifies RTC’s role in certifying local plans as part of Washington State’s growth management planning process. The Guide includes a checklist for local jurisdictions to complete to help them and RTC fulfill certification requirements.
Comprehensive Federal Transportation Bill Funds State and Regional Programs
Congress passed and President Obama signed a new federal transportation funding bill which stabilizes federal funding to state and metropolitan regions for planning and project improvements. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act,” sets new policy direction and funding levels for the federal aid transportation program, and among other key initiatives adds new competitive grants which promote investments in the nation’s strategic freight corridors. In addition, the FAST Act retains the multi-modal emphasis of the federal program by ensuring funding of transit programs as well as the Transportation Alternatives Program. The RTC region’s Congressional delegation, Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representative Herrera Beutler, each provided meaningful leadership in many strategic areas and each supported passage in Congress. More preliminary information about the FAST Act as summarized by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations can be found here.
2015 Annual Report
In 2015, RTC deployed over $8.9 million in seed capital funds, for 17 regional TIP/TAP projects in the three-county region. These important projects are designed to upgrade the region’s signal, roadway, transit, and trail networks. The RTC continues to collaborate with members on planning for future oriented traffic signal and communications systems across the region as part of the VAST program. Partners to VAST hosted a regional forum to explore the future of the “connected” transportation system, and work will continue to position the regional partners in accommodating the connected vehicle and information systems. Regional collaboration with our bi-state partners as part of the Bi-State Coordination Committee continued to show progress and emerging studies of interstate corridors for transit and operations upgrades will be a focus for partners in the upcoming year.
Bi-state Travel Times now Available on Vancouver Area Freeways
RTC programmed funds in 2012, through the Vancouver Area Smart Trek Program, for the Washington portion of the Bi-State Travel Time project, a joint collaboration between the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. RTC assisted in the project by planning and facilitating meetings between the transportation departments to define and develop the project, resolve technical issues on data sharing and integration, and on route and destination information.  (See also.)
RTC Selects Transportation Projects for Funding
On October 6, the RTC Board selected 12 projects to receive approximately $7.4 million in regionally allocated federal transportation funds. Projects will be implemented between 2016 and 2019, and include funding for arterial improvements along NE 119th Street and NE 10th Avenue, pedestrian and bicycle improvements along Highway 99 and Fort Vancouver Way, and operational improvements throughout urban Clark County.
In addition, the RTC Board approved the 2016-2019 Transportation Improvement Program, which indicates a funding commitment for approximately $195 million in transportation improvements over the next four years in the Clark County region.
Governor Signs Into Law a Major State Transportation Funding Package
On July 15, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law major new statewide transportation revenue, project funding, and reform bills which will shape RTC’s regional transportation system performance and project funding for years to come. Major elements of the new laws (referred to as Connecting Washington) included: creating a 16-year funding plan for building major freeway and roadway projects, distributing a slice of the gas tax to local agencies, funding multiple discretionary grant programs, and enhancing multi-modal grants and direct funds to transit agencies across the state. Here in Clark County, the transportation funding package funds many of RTC’s high priority projects for freeways, arterial roadways, transit and ports. Detailed summaries of the transportation projects funded by Connecting Washington and associated summaries of discretionary grant programs and local agency funding are found here:

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.

I-205, 18th Street interchange opens - July 20, 2016
After more than a decade of work, the new Interstate 205 Mill Plain Interchange to Northeast 18th Street was declared officially open Wednesday afternoon. Staff members of Washington’s federal delegation, legislators from the 17th and 49th Legislative Districts, a staffer from the governor’s office, transportation officials and Vancouver officials gathered on the 18th Street offramp for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. The occasion celebrated the new interchange, and officials congratulated the Washington State Department of Transportation on completing the project. “This has been a long time coming. It’s the end of an era,” said Bart Gernhart, WSDOT assistant regional administrator, referencing the interchange’s status as the final project in Clark County to be completed with the state 2005 Transportation Partnership Program funding packages.
Appeals Court: Cities must make roads safe for bicycles - June 30, 2016
A Washington state appeals court has ruled cities must provide safe roadways for all traffic, including bicycles. The three-judge panel found that cycling is a mode of “ordinary travel,” not just a sport, so cities must maintain roads for safe bicycle travel. The ruling this week came in a lawsuit filed by Pamela O’Neill, who was seriously injured while commuting home from work in Port Orchard. She was thrown from her bicycle when she hit a patch of road that had gaps in the concrete. O’Neill sued the city, claiming it was negligent in maintaining Sidney Avenue in a way that provided safe travel for bicycles. But a Superior Court judge granted the city’s motion to dismiss the case. The appeals court overturned that dismissal and sent the case back to the lower court “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
Newcomers flock to Clark County - June 30, 2016
Clark County’s population grew to 461,010 this year and continues to grow, primarily because people are moving here. That may be a no-brainer to anybody clued into the tight local housing market, but population estimates released Thursday by the state Office of Financial Management show just how substantial migration to the area is. While the county population grew by about 10,000 people between 2015 and 2016, almost 7,000 of them were newcomers. That’s the biggest gain in newcomers since 2005-2006.
Ribbon cutting celebrates Highway 502 improvements, widening - June 27, 2016
With cars whizzing by in the background, a group of local politicians and Washington State Department of Transportation officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new, wider state Highway 502. “Just 10 minutes off (Interstate 5) exit 11 is a very beautiful part of the county inhabited by hard working, welcoming, friendly people who strive every day to raise their families and live the small town life that many people in this country can only hope for,” Battle Ground Mayor Phillip Johnson said. He added that the improvements to 502 will not only make it easier for Battle Ground residents to get to I-5, it also will allow for easier access to Battle Ground and north Clark County. The $84.4 million project widens 502 from two lanes to four lanes and more than doubles the shoulders on both sides. With the extra lanes and wider shoulders, 502 expanded from 28-feet wide to 84-feet wide, WSDOT Regional Administrator Kris Strickler said. The shoulders are now 10 feet wide, and the project added a median to separate eastbound from westbound traffic.
Wider SR 502 opens to traffic between I-5, Battle Ground - June 27, 2016
Drivers who endured nearly three years of construction on Northeast 219th Street/State Route 502 between Interstate 5 and Battle Ground have reason to celebrate: A new, wider and safer highway is now open to traffic. On Monday, June 27, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation removed the last of the orange construction barrels that cordoned off the newly built sections of the highway, expanding it from two to four lanes separated by median barrier for safety.
Crunch time on the Interstate 5 Bridge - June 26, 2016
Vancouver resident Mark Robinette picked just about the worst time on the worst day to drive across the Interstate 5 Bridge if he had wanted to avoid being the second driver involved in a five-car pileup. Shortly after 2 p.m. on the particularly wet Friday afternoon of Sept. 25, 2015, Robinette hit the gas to merge from state Highway 14 into the congestion of southbound Interstate 5. But what Robinette didn’t know as he was nearing 50 mph was that just on the other side of the bridge’s crest, Jantzen Beach traffic was lined up on the freeway at a dead stop. The situation suddenly Robinette found himself in is the same conditions that cause roughly 260 crashes per year from the Oregon state line to just north of the Fremont Bridge in Portland, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.