Below are the minutes for the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors Meeting, held on Tuesday, June 5, 2001, at 4:00 p.m. at the Marshall House, 1301 Officers' Row, Vancouver, Washington. The agenda for this meeting is also available.
I. Call to Order and Roll Call of Members
The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors Meeting was called to order by Chair Charles Crumpacker on Tuesday, June 5, 2001, at 4 p.m., at the Marshall House, 1301 Officers Row, Vancouver, Washington. Those in attendance follow.
Board Members Charles Crumpacker, City of Washougal Mayor
Bill Ganley, City of Battle Ground Mayor
Lynne Griffith, C-TRAN Executive Director/CEO
Mary Legry, WSDOT Alternate
Arch Miller, Port of Vancouver Commissioner
Rod Monroe, Metro Councilor
Betty Sue Morris, Clark County Commissioner
Royce Pollard, City of Vancouver Mayor
Craig Pridemore, Clark County Commissioner
Thayer Rorabaugh, City of Vancouver Transportation Services Manager
Judie Stanton, Clark County Commissioner
Bob Talent, Skamania County Commissioner
Dave Williams, ODOT Alternate
Ed Barnes, Washington State Transportation Commissioner
Pete Capell, Clark County
Pat Collmeyer, Citizen
Michael Kepcha, Citizen
Burr C. McCutcheon, The Reflector Newspaper
Deb Wallace, WSDOT
Lynda David, Senior Transportation Planner
Dean Lookingbill, Transportation Director
Dale Robins, Senior Transportation Planner
Diane Workman, Administrative Assistant
II. Approval of May 1, 2001, Minutes
ARCH MILLER MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE MAY 1, 2001 MEETING MINUTES. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
III. Citizen Communications
There were no citizens wishing to present discussion before the Board.
IV. Consent Agenda
- June Claims
CRAIG PRIDEMORE MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE CONSENT AGENDA JUNE CLAIMS. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
V. Washington State Transportation Legislation, Second 30-day Special Session
Dean Lookingbill said there has not been a lot of new information. He recapped some of the issues. Regarding the HOV project, when the Senate passed their current law budget, it was not listed in that budget. In the House, the House Transportation Committee included it in their budget, but ultimately before the full House put together a current law transportation budget, hence there was no final action on the HOV issue. The project continued to be supported by the RTC Board and by members of the 49th district. It did not have support by members of the 17th or 18th districts. RTC staff has stopped the implementation of the public communication plan pending legislative action.
In terms of transportation, the Legislature continued to work primarily with regionalism and new revenue legislation. There are a number of proposals, but the only one that has seen floor action is the one that has gone through the Senate. In common, they all have a significant revenue boost. The Governors package looks to raise close to $17 billion total and on the state side between $6 and $12 billion over ten years. Much of that is through revenues raised through an increase in gas tax from 6¢ to 12¢ over a two to four year period of increases. The increase in state transportation revenues also includes other items like license fees. On the regional side, the package includes a range of local revenue options all of which would go to ballot. Most of the regional revenue was also targeted toward state facilities. One of the differences occurred in how much of the regional revenue would also go to local/regional facilities versus state highways. The most recent discussion has been on a House compromise bill between the Republicans and the Democrats that is supposed to come out soon. This legislation includes more of the elements that the RTC Board has talked about and more flexibility. It allows an RTPO type organization to have a role. It also permits a countywide district. The definition of projects is broad. Still there is a vote on the package. This one has also included the BRCTs recommendations on a wide range of local options. Two local legislators would also sit on the board. Mr. Lookingbill was hopeful to hear something soon.
Chair Crumpacker said he, Don Wagner, and Dean Lookingbill along with other elected officials were able to meet with the new Secretary of Transportation, Doug MacDonald. Mayor Crumpacker said he was impressed and felt that Mr. MacDonald would be putting some focus on Southwest Washington. Dave Williams said ODOT staff is in the process of setting up a meeting with their new Director, Bruce Warner, to meet with Washingtons Doug MacDonald to discuss all the issues with the I-5 corridor. He said the meeting might have to wait until after the legislature is done. Craig Pridemore asked who was scheduled to participate in the meeting. Mr. Williams said it would be the two DOT directors and a couple of key staff from each state as well. Craig Pridemore said it might be good to have the Bi-State Committee involved in that meeting. Mr. Williams said the Washington and Oregon transportation directors typically have close contact to keep current on issues. Rod Monroe said he also got to meet Mr. MacDonald. He said he appreciated the opportunity to get to know him and was impressed as well. Mr. Monroe said it sounded like he understood we are a region and plans to cooperate and work together as a bi-state region.
Ed Barnes noted that it is a two-week special session not 30 days.
VI. Metropolitan Transportation Plan Prioritization Process
Dean Lookingbill said at the May meeting, RTC Board discussed and endorsed the elements and schedule for conducting the 2001 Metropolitan Transportation Plan reprioritization process. As agreed, a letter was sent to our legislative delegation informing them that the process was starting and invited their participation. At the May meeting, the RTC Board also directed RTC staff to begin the background work needed to get the reprioritization process started. Mr. Lookingbill said for todays discussion he would present the first two steps in the process: 1) a shared definition of transportation system performance, and 2) a review of transportation principles and policies. Mr. Lookingbill referred to handouts on the prioritization process and maps of the transportation system performance. He said the prioritization process begins with the adopted Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP).
Mr. Lookingbill displayed overheads of the distributed maps and referred to the 2020 MTP Regional System Improvements map. He said the information that was used in the 2020 forecast modeling includes a population assumption of 473,000 and 228,000 for employment. About 625 miles of highway system are modeled, but the regional system includes only interstate facilities, state facilities and principal arterials, about 175 miles of highways/arterials. The river crossings on the I-5 Bridge today are 128,000 per day. In 1997, the total hit a high of 150,000. The I-205 bridge has about 132,000 crossings today. Also in 1997, the I-205 Bridge hit a high of 159,000. About 39% of the trips are work related. There has been a steady increase over the years. Arch Miller asked why there was a peak in river crossing trips in 1997. It could be related to the fact that there was no construction, no accidents and it was around the Memorial Day weekend. Mr. Lookingbill said one out of seven trips that are generated in Clark County cross the Columbia River. In the year 2020, there will be about 100 lane miles of congestion that occurs during peak hour, which is about 5,000 hours of delay during the peak hour. In 2020 the travel forecasting model is forecasting about 7,600 vehicles northbound peak hour on the I-5 Bridge while the capacity is only 5,800. The I-205 bridge future forecast is about 11,600 vehicles northbound in the peak p.m. hour with a capacity of 7,500. Mr. Lookingbill referred to the distributed maps. The three maps displayed the various ways of looking at the 2020 increase in traffic volumes matched against the capacity improvement projects contained in the 20-year transportation plan. Mr. Lookingbill highlighted each map: Increase in Vehicle Volumes 1999 to 2020, Vehicle Volume to Capacity Ratio 2020, and Travel Speed 2020. The travel speeds shown on the third map were generally at a level of service (LOS) D/E and LOS F. Mr. Lookingbill said the LOS D/E on the freeway represents speeds of about 35 miles per hour, on state facilities it would be about 30 miles per hour, on multiple-lane arterials it represents 25-30 miles per hour, and on two-lane arterials it averages about 20 miles per hour. For LOS F speeds represent less that 30 miles per hour on the freeway, on state facilities it would be 20-25 miles per hour, on multiple-lane arterials it represents 20 miles per hour, and on two-lane arterials it represents 10-15 miles per hour. Mr. Lookingbill said the maps show the 2020 MTP system deficiencies and reflect the continued growth and where we have growth without transportation investment. He said the examples do not address the transit issues or the ITS and TDM activities that may be provided, but they begin to establish a reference point for the system performance.
Rod Monroe asked if the results were based on no significant increase in transit capacity. Mr. Lookingbill said there is a fairly significant increase in C-TRANs service. Mr. Monroe asked if the assumption would be an increase in buses and bus activity but not light rail. Mr. Lookingbill said it does not have light rail, but it does have high capacity transit designation. Dave Williams said for the Oregon side there was an assumed growth in transit service that correlated to the growth in the tax that pays for it. Travel model runs assumed some growth in the number of buses operating on the same roads. It was asked what determined the amount of growth. Mr. Lookingbill said the future transit assumption was developed prior to the loss of the motor vehicle excise tax, staff worked with C-TRAN who had forecast a number of service hours and that was translated into how the bus system would work. It was not based on trends but the target for the amount of service that would be offered. This plan has not reflected how different that would be with a lower amount of transit service assumed.
Mr. Lookingbill said the key question raised in the prioritization of projects is one of where to focus the investment of transportation revenues. In order to answer the prioritization question, the RTC Board first identified a set of principles and from these defined a set of transportation policies that framed what the transportation system needed to do. Mr. Lookingbill referred to the memorandum included in the meeting packet that listed the principles and policies and highlighted each one. The 1998 regional transportation principles include: economic development and current commitment to the business community, future economic development and growth in jobs, congestion mitigation/concurrency deficiencies, cost effectiveness, completion of the transportation network, freight movement, and bi-state movement. The 1998 regional transportation prioritization policies include economic development, land use and transportation system performance, transportation demand management (TDM), funding, and bi-state transportation strategy.
There was discussion by Board members of the principles and policies. Craig Pridemore asked if we need/want to add new projects not currently listed. He said they have been discussing the 269th interchange with the Port of Ridgefield. Mr. Lookingbill said the I-5 North Corridor study includes that interchange and can be included. Mary Legry said the corridor study shows improvement to the interchange but not a new capacity on the roads leading to and from the interchange. Modeling is based on currently adopted Clark County comprehensive land use plan.
There was discussion of zoning and economic development along with the prioritization process. Betty Sue Morris said it is a difficult process that is time consuming and things just need to be put on the table. Mr. Lookingbill said todays discussion is intended to do just that. The discussion and wrestling with the issues is a necessary part of making the prioritization decisions. Arch Miller said it would be helpful to update the list with the projects that have been completed, funded, or are under construction and have these taken off the prioritization list. He said the priority list that was developed should take into consideration future growth so that we are not always behind. He said we wait till the traffic is so bad, and then do something about it. He would like to see the priority list expanded to include more items, those that need to be done before we reach saturation point at an interchange or wherever. Mr. Lookingbill said the adopted list of improvement projects in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan is constrained by what is considered financially feasible. He confirmed that Mr. Miller and the Board were agreeing that the initial list of projects should not be constrained by financial feasibility and should look at what we need and when. He said that because of our air quality status, at some point we would have to come back to a list of what can be reasonably funded. We can look at a larger list, but we must formally adopt a reasonably fundable list of projects.
Betty Sue Morris said there are two elements of the plan. One is what is submitted to the Feds and the second is what is our plan/need for the regional transportation system. She said we need this second plan to start our priorities discussion. She said to take the projects off the list that are already funded. Mr. Lookingbill said that some of the projects are only partially funded. Judie Stanton said it might be that we need one list for use of the Board for their purposes and another one for tracking. There was discussion by Board members of the updating of the list. Betty Sue Morris said it would be helpful to take everything off the list that has been done, under construction, and/or funded. Attach an updated dollar amount to everything that is left. Arch Miller said the last prioritization was 1998, and he asked if there was a limit to every four years for an update or if it could be done more often. Mr. Lookingbill said it is entirely up to the Board as to how often it is updated. Mr. Miller asked the cost of the update. Mr. Lookingbill said there is a significant cost in staff time and the time of the Board members, but did not have an estimate of what that is. It also comes down to a priority of where to spend staff time and how much time the Board would like to devote to the process.
Mr. Lookingbill asked what type of projects the Board would like to see included. Arch Miller said the map showing the 2020 Vehicle Volume to Capacity Ratio would seem to show where the needed improvements should be. Thayer Rorabaugh said this process-oriented structure defines the policies, but we also need to convert those policies into the evaluation criteria. He said we need the criteria to help start the discussion of what we want out of the projects. Betty Sue Morris said most everyone around the table is aware of congestion and land use issues. The biggest issue is how you get projects on or off the list. Craig Pridemore said he would like a value added to the criteria, the additional tax base anticipated versus the dollar value of the investment.
Mr. Lookingbill said he understood the Boards request would be to move past just the MTP list of projects and additional improvement projects. He asked if the Board wanted improvements broke down corridor by corridor. Betty Sue Morris said for discussion at the next meeting it would be helpful to have each Board member bring back their key elements in the criteria. She also questioned why local projects are not listed.
Deb Wallace said an element that tends to get lost is TDM (transportation demand management). She said it is important to be strategic about how to use our transit capacity. The last time the MTP was updated, there was a minimal amount on the TDM element. Mr. Lookingbill said this is an important element, but is limited in funding.
Judie Stanton said we need to look at other alternatives that are available for the funding of projects that are not fully funded. She said the large matrix that was used the last time would be useful in helping to see more of the information.
Ed Barnes said an updated list of projects would put them in a better position to step up to the plate quicker that others to get projects funded.
In summary, for discussion at the next meeting, Mr. Lookingbill would: 1) have a list of projects that are recognized as regional needs but go beyond the financial constraints of the current MTP, 2) take projects that were in the MTP but have now been completed off of the list, 3) update the costs of all projects, and 4) take a first cut at evaluating the projects against the previously adopted project evaluation criteria.
VII. State Route 35 Columbia River Crossing Feasibility Study Update
Dale Robins said the Bingen/White Salmon community is similar to the relationship between Vancouver and Portland in that about 40 percent of the work force from Bingen travel across from the Washington side to Hood River, Oregon for work every day. Also, many major shopping facilities are on the Oregon side. The SR-35 study came about when local businesses and residents lobbied congress and were successful in obtaining funding through the 1997 TEA-21 legislation. In 1999, a project scope development phase was undertaken and a public meeting was held. The feasibility study is a three-tiered approach. Tier I (issues and corridor development) is scheduled to be completed in June 2001, Tier II (corridor selection and promising alternatives) is due to be completed by early 2002, and Tier III (Draft Environmental Impact Statement and selection of preferred alternative) is scheduled to be completed by early 2003.
Three committees have been formed to advise the project team: A Resource/Regulatory Committee comprised of representatives of state and federal agencies which will be reviewing alternatives analyses, documents, and permit applications pertinent to agency regulations; a Local Advisory Committee comprised of area residents and business owners; and a Steering Committee which includes local elected officials and senior agency staff. A project Management Team comprised of lead RTC, ODOT, WSDOT, and consultant staff meet monthly to oversee the study process.
Major tasks completed in Tier I include the development of a Baseline Conditions Report, Purpose and Need Statement and initial corridor screening. The Baseline Conditions Report was completed in November 2000 and updated in February 2001. As part of the EIS process, a project Purpose and Need Statement was drafted to explain why the project is being undertaken by the Federal Highway Administration (lead federal agency.) The purpose of the SR-35 Columbia River Crossing Feasibility Study is to improve the mobility of goods and people across the Columbia River between Bingen/White Salmon, Washington and Hood River, Oregon. The proposed study action should: Improve cross-river transportation while meeting river navigation needs, be financially acceptable and support local economic development, maintain the integrity of the interstate highway system, and minimize impacts to recreational users and facilities. The project team conducted an initial corridor screening. Mr. Robins referred to the map of the corridors and the screening matrix that were attached to the memorandum included in the meeting packet. There were six corridors evaluated and one no action. These have been narrowed down to three corridors plus a no-build. Tier II will begin in late June 2001 and result in the selection of a crossing corridor, refine information to assist in the evaluation of alternatives, begin the assessment of alternatives, and narrow alternatives to two long-term alternatives. Additionally, short-term solutions will be analyzed. Tier II will continue to February of 2002.
Arch Miller asked if the EIS would then start in February 2002. Mr. Robins said that an initial part of the EIS process has already begun. At the end of each Tier, a decision is made as to continue to move forward with the process. At the end of Tier II, a decision will be made if they need to continue the full EIS process if they find it is not feasible to fund the bridge. Mr. Miller said the study addresses the traffic volumes on the bridge and asked what projection year was used for traffic volumes. Twenty-year traffic volume projections were used. Mr. Miller said the study funding was authorized in 1997, the study is to be completed in 2003, and then we go out to find the funds to build the bridge. He stated by the time it is built, it has been ten years and it is out of date. Dave Williams said it is not the auto volumes that prompted the study of the bridge. The issue is that the current bridge is very narrow and trucks have trouble getting across. There is no pedestrian or bicycle facility, which means that the only way you can cross, is in an auto. Also, there were concerns by the Washington folks that the Port of Hood River, who owns the bridge, was taking the toll revenues and not using it to rehabilitate to bridge adequately. It is the inadequacy of the bridge that has prompted them to go to congress to do the study. Traffic volumes are not an issue, it is the fact that the travel lanes are 9 ½ feet wide and the trucks are 10 feet wide. There was discussion of how unsafe the bridge is.
VIII. Other Business
From the Board
Chair Crumpacker said that he participated in the Exit Interview for RTCs state audit for 2000. He said the auditors were very complementary stating they enjoyed coming to RTC to do the audit because Dean and his staff were excellent, especially the accountant Patty Raedy. The auditors were able to easily receive all the necessary information. There were no findings as there were none the previous year, and they said to keep up the good work. Chair Crumpacker offered his complements to Dean and his staff.
Chair Crumpacker said the next meeting is scheduled for July 3. He asked if Board members wanted to move the meeting to the following week. There was discussion of the need to move forward with the MTP prioritization process. After discussion, to better achieve a quorum, Board members decided to move the July meeting to Thursday, July 12, 2001, at 4 p.m. at the Marshall House. Notification of the meeting change would be mailed out prior to the meeting.
Ed Barnes said at a meeting the previous week, US Senator Patty Murray, meet with a coalition group at the Port of Longview. He said the discussion was regarding the dredging issue and said the turn out was a full house including the Ports, ship owners, barge owners, longshoremen, and transportation folks. He said the two environmental groups present made their points but did not force the issue of trying to stop the project. He felt this was due to the fact that there was clarification of just what was to be dredged. Mr. Barnes said he thought it was a very productive meeting saying that Senator Murray said she would do what she could to help get the dollars for the dredging project. Arch Miller said that Senator Murray is now Chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, a very powerful position on transportation funding. She appropriately stated she was in favor of the channel deepening project, and that she would do everything that she could to get the funding when the time comes. Mr. Miller said now they are just waiting for National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with their final report, which is about a year out.
From the Director
Mr. Lookingbill said as part of the Congestion Management System, RTC has a multi year contract for traffic counts and through that contract traffic counts will start to be collected. As part of the budgeted ITS program, RTC will be putting out a Request for Qualifications for consultant support on expertise on how the communications infrastructure, hardware, software, etc. of VAST is pulled together. Action on that decision will come back to the Board for their approval.
The next meeting of JPACT is June 14, 2001, 7:30 a.m., and the next RTC Board of Directors meeting will be Thursday, July 12, 2001 at 4 p.m.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
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