Below are the minutes for the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors Meeting, held on Thursday, July 12, 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 Thursday, July 12, 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
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
Gail Spolar, C-TRAN Alternate
Judie Stanton, Clark County Commissioner
Bob Talent, Skamania County Commissioner
Kay Van Sickel, ODOT Region One Manager
Don Wagner, WSDOT SW Regional Administrator
Mark Brown, City of Vancouver
Don Carlson, Washington State Senator
Michael Kepcha, Citizen
Tevis Laspa, Interim Ridgefield City Manager
Bill Wright, Clark County
Bob Hart, Transportation Section Supervisor
Dean Lookingbill, Transportation Director
Dale Robins, Senior Transportation Planner
Diane Workman, Administrative Assistant
II. Approval of June 5, 2001, Minutes
ARCH MILLER MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE JUNE 5, 2001 MEETING MINUTES. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY ROYCE POLLARD AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
III. Citizen Communications
Senator Don Carlson said in regard to the HOV project, the vote of the regular transportation budget was not an easy vote. He said when the House sent the transportation budget to the Senate; they took out several important Puget Sound/King County area projects. The budget had moved through the Senate very easily previously but when it came back for the final vote and because of the lateness and the number of people being gone, generally, the Republican Party turned against the budget because of the loss of the projects in the Seattle area. Senator Carlson said it took 25 votes to pass and the legislators of the 49th district were together on the issue. Part of the issue was the support for the HOV lane on I-5 that will run from 99th Street to Mill Plain and perhaps longer in the future. He said he wanted it to be made clear that they understand the assistance that they need from the Oregon side to do a substantial road improvement so there is not a difficult situation for our citizens who are taking that route. He said he hoped the RTC Board will help them emphasize that they have done their part with some difficulty to get try and get the Delta Park bottleneck developed. He stated that some critics have said that Oregon is not going to be true to their commitment to that project. He said he has faith and is hopeful that Oregon will now respond to the need for the Delta Park improvement. He said that he was made aware that in the long run, the whole bridge is seriously being considered for change. In ten years if the bridge is going to be replaced, citizens will be asking why then are we spending all this money to repaint it. Somehow he said it would be necessary to deal with these questions and concerns.
Senator Carlson said the next legislative session begins the following Monday, July 16. He said he has talked with Senator Horn who is working very closely with Senator McDonald and Senator Finkbeiner. He said they are progressing and using a mediator to work for the resolution of transportation issues between the Governor, the House and the Senate. Senator Horn was quite upbeat and positive that there would be a package, but they will have to negotiate that package during the first couple days of the session. At the end of the week there are a number of legislators that will be gone on vacation. It seemed most likely that the second week of the special session is when they would be called in for a vote. Regionalization is a part of that process. Mark Brown, City of Vancouver has helped to keep the Senator informed as to where the RTC Board is on the kind of regionalization that will not prohibit legislators from doing what they need to do, but also recognize the needs of the Puget Sound area. There will need to be options to help with the terrible traffic dilemma in the Seattle area. Senator Carlson said he believes that there will be a tax increase and in talking with Senator Horn, they both agree that the tax increase should be done by the legislature and not go to the people. He said he does not know what the final negotiations will be but his view is that mobility is an issue and that the transportation infrastructure is essential to resolve and the legislature needs to step up and deal with the issue. He said that if we send the issue to the people, he does not see the general citizens recognizing the depth of the problem and are unlikely to deal with the tax increases. He said if any RTC Board members have concerns of the regional issues or other items that will be voted on the following week and want to share with him, he said he would share them with his colleagues. Also, he can be reached by a phone call through Sharon Wylie, Clark County or Mark Brown, City of Vancouver. He said both were excellent in representing RTC on the issues of transportation.
Royce Pollard thanked Senator Carlson for coming and sharing his thoughts with the RTC Board. He reassured the Senator that his comments in regard to Oregon are the same that RTC has made to their partners across the river and he will continue to make them. Every indication is that they are and together we will work jointly on this along with our congressional delegation to correct the bottleneck at Delta Park. It is a high priority for us and for Portland. Royce Pollard said they would make a point to pass this message on to Rod Monroe and said he appreciated the Senators attendance.
Craig Pridemore said it was helpful to have the Senator present and his comments.
Don Wagner reassured Senator Carlson that the bridge painting issue has been something that WSDOT has thought of. Two years ago when the contract was issued, there was a clause in the contract that says if the bridge is reconstructed within 12 years of the time the painting is started, then Washingtons cost of that would not have to be paid. He said there are concerns with the structures and they are moving forward with it. He has had an opportunity to talk with the Federal Highway Administration Regional Administrator in Oregon about the concerns on the bridge. Mr. Wagner said on July 24 the conceptual designs for river crossings that are being looked at by the I-5 Transportation Trade and Partnership Committee will be presented to the public at an open house at Vancouvers Water Resources Center. Mr. Wagner thanked Senator Carlson for his support for transportation in the last three special sessions.
Rod Monroe arrived at the meeting and Senator Carlson was asked to repeat his statement in regard to the Delta Park issue. Senator Carlson said the HOV lane on I-5 in the Washington was finally approved. He said it was a difficult situation because it put Southwest Washington legislators against one another because of the disagreement on the HOV issue. He said he was convinced by folks that represent this area that the reason that we need that element is because we have obligations on our side of the river to help try and help the flow of traffic and encourage other options. To fully address this issue it is crucial that we deal with the bottleneck at Delta Park, and he said that he hopes that Oregon will assist us by providing the additional lanes.
Rod Monroe thanked Senator Carlson and said he appreciated his help. He said that he is committed that they will be able to deal with the Delta Park bottleneck and get the third lane. He said politically, the only way it can happen in Oregon is if it is an HOV lane. The fact that the lane that is added in Washington is HOV greatly assists him in getting the public support that is needed. He said they already have federal dollars to study the project. It was noted that out of the 49 votes in the Senate, 25 were in favor of this.
Chair Crumpacker said information that was just handed to him by Royce Pollard, stated that a phone call that morning from Senator Murray confirmed the Senate okayed $6.5 million for a C-TRAN transit center and $1 million for ITS.
IV. Consent Agenda
- July Claims
- FY 2001 Unified Planning Work Program Amendment, Resolution 07-01-09
ROYCE POLLARD MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE CONSENT AGENDA JULY CLAIMS AND RESOLUTION 07-01-09. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY CRAIG PRIDEMORE AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
V. Current Law, FY 2001/03 State Transportation Budget
Don Wagner handed out three documents listing the 01/03 WSDOT highway construction projects with corresponding maps for Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties. These projects are in current law budget. Out of the 24 projects listed for Clark County, 4 are studies, 4 are design and 16 are construction projects. Mr. Wagner highlighted the list of projects and asked that jurisdictions confirm the list of projects with their staff and contact him if there are any corrections.
Mark Brown said it is uncertain what will take place in the third special legislative session. He said for the new revenue, the negotiators are trying to put together a package that puts about $10 billion into the state transportation system. At least among the group at the table negotiating, there is consensus on not going to voters for a vote to approve the package. How that will play out is still debatable. The revenue options include a 7-12 cent gas tax, a commercial vehicle fee, a truck and motor home weight fee, and a transportation improvement fee that looks to be about a $40-$45 per vehicle fee. They are still looking at the principle of 80 percent return of the new revenue to the county of origin. Critical to our interest is the issue of following the historical gas tax distribution that includes a proportionate direct allocation to cities and counties. He said that Senator Mary Margaret Haugen has not changed her mind on that and that any additional money that comes to cities and counties will be through categorical and competitive grant programs. Under her proposal, there is a lot of new money that would come into the transportation mix. On the House side, it appears that both the House primary leaders in this area are committed to a direct distribution. The problem in Olympia is that they cannot agree on how the money will be spent. There are some fundamental differences. Senate negotiators are primarily focused on road and rail, whereas House leaders seem very committed to that plus transit. They have not worked through that disagreement as of the previous day (July 11). He said the talk of the need for 50 votes in the House and 25 votes in the Senate is the traditional model. It has occurred to some recently that they have to raise the statutory bond limit and that requires a 60 percent vote. This means they could vote for the new revenue with 50 votes in the House, but you cannot spend it without 59 votes in the House. So it is really a 59 vote in the House and that takes the 25 votes in the Senate up to 30 votes in the Senate.
On the Senate side, and especially the members of Senator Carlsons caucus from King County, view the state revenue side of this as intricately linked to regionalism and especially in the Puget Sound area. Mr. Brown said that Senators Finkbeiner, Horn, McDonald, and others in that caucus wont support a revenue package if there is not a regional organization created, mandated, and implemented at least in Puget Sound. He said there is a Senate Bill, a House Bill and now yet another proposal that came last Monday. This proposal is Puget Sound only. It is a mandate and there is a very specific governance, project eligibility, and revenue scheme that would be advanced and not much in terms of local tax options. Both the planning and the governance process offer greater flexibility in terms of the project that could be identified. They are looking at sales and use tax, vehicle excise tax, a vehicle license fee, and tolls to be the local revenue options that would be available to the four-county consortium. That would be organized in a planning mode with county legislative members present. In Puget Sound, this would be a total of 28 people from the four counties. The revenue options would all be subject to voter approval except the tolls. The project eligibility would be identified by the legislature as projects of statewide significance. This is Puget Sound model only. It is a bill that is not supported by King County, actively opposed by King County, and opposed by most of the cities in that region. It is uncertain what may come of the proposal.
Mr. Brown said he had an opportunity to talk with transportation legislative leaders, and he said that the City of Vancouver has been suggesting for some time that if this legislature leaves with a Puget Sound only model in place, they would at least like the ability to compete for some grants to take a look at what a regional model would best fit in our region. He said it looks like if this bill or something similar is to pass, there will probably be about a $450,000 pool of money available for grants for the regions to say this is what may work for us and bring recommendations back at the next session. The Senate already had that approach in their regional bill that they approved with Senator Carlsons support. It looks like if it is a regional bill in Puget Sound only and passes, we will at least have that option available to us. Mr. Brown said if RTC feels that a regional transportation consortium of some kind to largely supplement the state current law budget might make sense for this region, he would strongly recommend that you not wait for the legislature next year or 2003 to lay a model on us that we might disagree with. He strongly recommended that if there is an interest in pursuing this, that we do our own work and decide what is valued and design a regional structure and present it to them for authorization.
VI. WSDOT Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program Amendment, I-5 HOV Lane, Resolution 07-01-10
Dale Robins said WSDOT is requesting a Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) amendment to add $295,000 of state dollars for the I-5 Southbound HOV lane project between Mill Plain and 99th Street. The MTIP, which in turn becomes a part of the statewide State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), needs to include all regionally significant projects. This project will add the HOV delineation to the current I-5 widening project. This project was listed in the Legislative Book as Current Law Budget with a projected 2002 construction schedule. In order to meet the advanced schedule of the current contract, WSDOT is moving this project into the current biennium.
ARCH MILLER MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION 07-01-10, WSDOT MTIP AMENDMENT, I-5 HOV LANE. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY JUDIE STANTON.
There was a question as to why this was so late to be included. Don Wagner said there were two reasons that they have waited on. One was getting this in the STIP and the other was getting the environmental document with FHWA modified to allow HOV. They had planned on moving forward with this fairly quickly, then there was a controversy in the legislative process. It did not make sense to put something into a document that might later need to be taken out being the STIP or the environmental document which require federal approval and endorsement. They waited until they knew if they would have funding to do the project before taking the action to put it in the STIP or the environmental document. Rod Monroe added that legislators may think that it would be presumptive if action would have been taken prior to receiving the funding. He said he thought it was politically wise to wait.
THE MOTION WAS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
VII. I-5 High Occupancy Vehicle Facility Update
Bob Hart said now that the HOV lane has been funded, the public information program is being reactivated in order to inform the general public of the lane opening in October. He reminded the Board that the project was initiated in 1998 when the Clark County HOV System Study was completed including a recommendation that the I-5 Corridor should be the first facility considered for HOV implementation because of its high traffic congestion level, high transit and carpool usage, and that it would have the best travel time savings for the users of an HOV facility. In response, the RTC Board recommended the I-5 HOV Operational Study in May 1999. The Study analyzed a wide range of HOV alternatives in the corridor and resulted in a recommendation for a bi-state HOV facility that would operate southbound on I-5 during the morning commute period. The first phase of the facility is in Vancouver from 99th Street to Mill Plain and would open in conjunction with the completion of the I-5 construction project. The segment in Oregon would be implemented with the planned widening of Delta Park.
The goals of the I-5 HOV project are to help manage traffic congestion and make more efficient use of existing facilities by carrying more people in the HOV lane than in the general-purpose lanes. The HOV lane would also provide travel timesavings, more reliability for users, and is intended to encourage transit and carpooling.
The communications program has two key elements. The first consists of products for distribution to the community and for public outreach activities. These include brochures, displays and posters. Mr. Hart distributed copies of the brochure. A self-launching I-5 HOV project CD has also been produced that allows anyone with a computer to view the HOV slide show. The CD includes frequently asked questions, the HOV brochure and a link to the projects web page. The CDs will be available for community groups, employer fairs, and the public. The second element of the communications program is the implementation of the community outreach effort. They are currently in the process of contacting organizations and clubs offering presentations. The displays and information will be presented at the Clark County Fair and other community events. Mr. Hart presented the CD slide show highlighting the key elements. Mr. Hart said they would be meeting with the Washington State Patrol to discuss enforcement issues.
It was suggested to contact neighborhood associations, noting the neighborhood associations in Hazel Dell and also the Hazel Dell Businessmens Association. Mr. Hart said those are included in their list of contacts along with city of Vancouver neighborhood associations. Betty Sue Morris said those using the HOV lane will be coming from the county so Clark County neighborhoods should be contacted. She asked to have staff contact Holly Gaya who works with the Clark County neighborhood associations. Bob Hart said Susan Finch at Clark County Public Works has also been working on the HOV projects Public Relations Team and will continue to work with Holly. It was suggested to call neighborhood groups and organizations to offer presentations.
A question was asked about future HOV northbound in Washington. Mr. Hart said it was evaluated and it was found that once past (northbound) the bottleneck of the Interstate Bridge, there was no travel time savings. Arch Miller asked what happens when the Interstate Bridge gets replaced and the taking of a third lane. Mr. Hart said that would need to be revisited. Mr. Lookingbill said the I-5 Partnership Committee is looking at a number of Columbia River crossing alternatives and one of them includes an HOV lane. Don Wagner said Washington Transportation Commissions policy had been that you could not take a lane. They were also very strict on the issue of part-time HOV versus full-time HOV. They have modified some policies realizing that the Puget Sound model did not fit everywhere. A 24-hour HOV lane does not make sense for our area. The Commission has said our project is a pilot. Mr. Wagner said if this works for us and we have a new facility that works, continuation would be based on the results of the pilot as well as the rest of the system. He said they are comfortable with where they are today and feel comfortable that if there is an opportunity or need to expand it northbound, the Commission would be willing to listen.
Bob Hart said this discussion by the Board is right in line with another important element of this project and that is the evaluation of the lane and how it performs. An evaluation plan is being defined to provide information about the performance of the I-5 corridor prior to and after the opening of the HOV lane in October. Initial baseline data was collected in May 2001 in preparation of the Evaluation Plan. Additional data including a baseline public opinion survey will be collected this September. Current plans call for an initial evaluation report on the comparison in December 2001. Don Wagner said this is a pilot project. At the end of one year, we have a choice as to whether or not we leave it or take it out. If we do not have enough data, we can ask for an extension of the pilot project as was done in Oregon. If we decide to remove it at the end of the pilot, we have federal authorization to do so without a penalty to us. Craig Pridemore asked if we was WSDOT. Mr. Wagner said that it is a WSDOT call, but that it will be based on the local RTC recommendation to them. Mr. Hart said data would be collected every three months up until that time.
Arch Miller said getting the information of the HOV lane is very important to get out in advance. He said the information should not stop once the HOV lane is open. There needs to be periodic reports going out to the community as to how it is working. It is through that process that we inform the public that we do not want to take it out and the decision to leave it a year later is the right decision.
Betty Sue Morris said reader boards on I-5 stating that HOV is coming prior to the opening would seem to be very wise. Mr. Hart said WSDOT has two permanent signs that will go up and have also talked about having the variable message signs post the opening. Ms. Morris said it would be helpful to have the signs up as soon as possible. People are anticipating one more lane once the construction is complete. This would inform them of what will be there early on. A firm date of the opening will be known at the end of July. Mr. Wagner said some of the permanent variable message signs are part of the current project and not all are installed at this point. He said more are installed northbound than have been installed southbound. He said he would contact their project manager to see if they can focus on getting the southbound signs up sooner rather than later.
VIII. Metropolitan Transportation Plan Prioritization Process
Dean Lookingbill said discussion at the last RTC Board meeting focused on the list of projects and included questions in regard to which projects are funded and which are not funded. The discussion resulted in directing RTC staff to add projects to the MTP list that are included in the I-5 North Corridor and I-205 Corridor Studies and to separate the funded projects from the unfunded projects. The Board also asked staff to come back to the July meeting prepared to discuss the detailed list of project evaluation criteria. The memorandum included in the meeting packet included all of the requested information. Mr. Lookingbill referred to the map that displayed the 2020 MTP funded projects totaling $245 million. These projects have been programmed in the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program, have received grants or have construction bids. These projects also include revenues as programmed in the various local jurisdictions plans and/or programs. The 2020 MTP+ map identifies the unfunded projects. Corresponding tables identify the funded and unfunded projects along with their cost and comments. Mr. Lookingbill highlighted some of the key projects.
Betty Sue Morris said the information was very helpful. Arch Miller agreed the information was very good. He asked about the Columbia River New Interstate Crossing projects for $225 million. Mr. Lookingbill said this is an estimate that has been attached by the Governors budget knowing that the I-5 Partnership process is underway but a signal of his support of what the Washington share might be. Don Wagner said the New Interstate River Crossing and the Collector Distributor from Interstate Bridge to Main Street are both part of the corridor project for the Washington share. The total is about $300 million. The actual number that is in New Law is about $500 million. Part of that is shown as an HOV system. It was clarified that a collector distributor was a series of streets and ramps that help gather or disperse traffic between larger highways and intersecting streets allowing safe weave and merge movements of traffic.
Craig Pridemore asked if they were to look at what projects to move forward for evaluation from the unfunded projects list. Mr. Lookingbill said the list of unfunded projects is the capture list and represents the list of projects to be evaluated. He said to let him know if something needs to be added to the list. The next step is the evaluation of projects given the Boards recommended criteria. That list of projects will then be modeled and compared to the criteria.
Royce Pollard said the information was very well laid out in a clear manner and that it would greatly assist as a basis for discussions.
Mr. Lookingbill pointed out that the transit and transportation demand management (TDM) elements have not yet been incorporated into todays prioritization materials. The transit and TDM projects need to be incorporated to address these items.
Betty Sue Morris stated that the corridors were identified but not prioritized. She noted the need to address the evaluation criteria. She suggested that the policies that were adopted do not seem to be reflected in the evaluation criteria very well. She said it would be important to know if the new law transportation money that is raised in the new budget will be part of our plan besides the 80 percent return. She said at this point, all the legislative bills have been tied to Congestion Relief. Don Wagner said this is what they have heard consistently, congestion relief and corridors. He said that Dean has addressed this by having new list of unfunded 2020 MTP+ projects also listed as a corridor approach. It appears that what is heard from the Governors office and others is the money is not intended to enhance the traditional safety programs and the project selection process. There was discussion of the 80 percent return along with how this affected the rural areas and counties.
Mr. Lookingbill said for the August meeting he would begin work on the evaluation of the unfunded project list and put together a table that shows how the policies relate to the listed criteria.
IX. Other Business
From the Board
Bill Ganley stated that as a future agenda item he would like to discuss adding Battle Ground to Board representation. He said in the last ten years Battle Ground and Clark County have changed and grown. There has been discussion of possible changes given the regionalization issues and representation could be a part of that discussion. This would be a topic as a future agenda item.
Don Wagner said the I-5 Trade Corridor Study has been moving along with conceptual designs for what occur on I-5 in Washington and Oregon. Public meetings are going to be held to discuss these designs. The first meeting in Vancouver is at the Water Resources Center in a couple weeks. He suggested that RTC Board should be aware of what is being presented and asked that Dean get these dates to members. The study is moving at a fast pace, and there was discussion of getting RTC Board members up to date on the status of the study. Arch Miller suggested meeting an hour earlier in August to have a briefing on the study. The Board agreed to meet at 3 p.m. on August 7 to review the design concepts. Mr. Lookingbill would get a notice of the public meeting date and location to Board Members.
From the Director
Mr. Lookingbill said previous discussions included setting up meetings with himself, Don Wagner, Arch Miller and our legislative delegation to discuss RTC. Mr. Lookingbill said letters have been sent to inform them that we want to meet to include them in our process. Staff will set up meetings as soon as the session is over.
Mr. Lookingbill distributed a memorandum to the Board that outlined a new method of providing the monthly RTC Board meeting packet. The proposal is to keep the format of the current packet in place but to provide it in a notebook that would contain additional RTC information. The notebook would be delivered one week prior to the meeting then collected and updated following each meeting. The final product would be somewhat different but modeled after the system used by the Port of Vancouver and C-TRAN. The goal is to continue to provide the monthly meeting packet but include informational materials on previous meetings, key RTC Board policies, and contact information for RTC Board members and RTC staff. Arch Miller highly recommended something like this. He said when he receives his packet from the Port, he is able to sit down to read it and everything he needs for reference is in one place along with phone numbers. Bill Ganley suggested members keeping the notebooks and just three-hole punching the packet before mailing so they could insert it themselves. Mr. Lookingbill said since most members are local, delivering most packets would not be as big an issue.
Mr. Lookingbill said notices have been sent inviting RTC Board members to an Airport MAX Tour on July 30 that also includes C-TRAN Board members. Mr. Lookingbill asked if the invitation should be extended to some of the community leaders, chambers, etc. since there is space available. It was agreed that the invitation should be extended along with invitations to our legislators.
The next RTC Board of Directors meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, 2001 at 3 p.m.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:40 p.m.
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