Below are the minutes for the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors Meeting, held on Tuesday, April 9, 2002, at 3:00 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 Arch Miller on Tuesday, April 9, 2002, at 3:05 p.m., at the Marshall House, 1301 Officers’ Row, Vancouver, Washington. Those in attendance follow.
Board Members Lynne Griffith, C-TRAN Executive Director/CEO
Arch Miller, Port of Vancouver Commissioner
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
Kay Van Sickel, ODOT Region 1 Manager
Don Wagner, WSDOT Regional Administrator
Ed Barnes, Washington Transportation Commissioner
Randy Bombardier, City of Ridgefield
Mark Brown, City of Vancouver
John Fratt, Port of Vancouver
Bill Fromhold, Washington State Representative
Kristin Hull, Metro
Mary Legry, WSDOT
Mindi Linquist, Senator Murray’s Office
Dale Miller, C-TRAN
J. J. O’Connor-Fitzgerald, Congressman Baird’s Office
Val Ogden, Washington State Representative
Tom Ryll, The Columbian
Deb Wallace, WSDOT
Theresa Weil, WSDOT
Sharon Wylie, Clark County
Lynda David, Senior Transportation Planner
Mark Harrington, Transportation Analyst
Bob Hart, Transportation Section Supervisor
Dale Robins, Senior Transportation Planner
Dean Lookingbill, Transportation Director
Diane Workman, Administrative Assistant
II. Approval of February 5, 2002, Minutes
JUDIE STANTON MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE FEBRUARY 5, 2002 MEETING MINUTES. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY ROYCE POLLARD AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED. LYNNE GRIFFITH ABSTAINED.
III. Citizen Communications
Chair Arch Miller said we were very fortunate to have Representative Val Ogden attending today’s Board meeting. He said that Representative Ogden has announced that she will not be a candidate to run for office again. We will miss her tremendously. Chair Miller said thanks to Val Ogden’s leadership, we did very well with our transportation projects in the House Bill. Without her providing the leadership in Olympia as she has, that would not have happened. Chair Miller said we commend her and thank her very much. Representative Ogden received a standing ovation.
Chair Miller recognized Representative Bill Fromhold and also thanked him for his support.
Dean Lookingbill referred to a correspondence packet that was distributed including 1) a copy of a thank you letter that was sent to the State Legislative delegation (17th, 18th, and 49th) thanking them for their support of the RTC Board’s priority projects, 2) supplemental information for new law budget discussion, 3) an update on RTC’s Title VI plan implementation, from Mark Harrington, RTC staff, who is working on that process, and 4) a VAST forum summary, from Bob Hart, RTC staff.
Mindi Linquist from Senator Patty Murray’s office said in regard to the Federal Transportation Bill, she had just spoken with Dale Learn, chief of staff in Senator Murray’s Washington, DC office. He said with the President’s proposed $8 billion transportation cut, the Senate was able to reauthorize about $5.7 billion of it, and the House was able to reauthorize about $4.4 billion. She said it not known at this time how the compromise will shape up. The Transportation bill will not be addressed until the end of June. She said the Senator’s office has all of Clark County and Southwest Washington’s priorities in mind.
J. J. O’Connor-Fitzgerald with Congressman Brian Baird’s office said they had the Truman-Hobbs public hearing on March 5, 2002. He said it went very well, with over three hours of testimony. The Eco investigation is going forward, with word of that investigation to come out early summer. They are still waiting on Minutes from that meeting, but said he could provide them to anyone who wishes.
John Fratt with the Port of Vancouver said the Hearing would not have taken place had it not been for Congressman Baird and J. J. O’Connor-Fitzgerald as the driver on it. Mr. Fratt said we owe them a great deal of gratitude. A key phrase in the Truman-Hobbs hearing is “unreasonable and obstructive nature of the railroad bridge”. We all know that it is unreasonable and obstructive when the I-5 Bridge also has to be raised in order to cross through the railroad bridge. He said he is not sure the Coast Guard will accept that. The hearing went very well, and no one testified against it. He said Burlington Northern (BN) was neutral on the issue. He said he has since talked with the BN representative and she says they are not neutral; they are in favor of it. There is still time to get proper words in, and they re working to get that wording inserted. Economic cost and value of the delay is understandable to the Coast Guard, but to the people backed up on I-5, it is not. Mr. Fratt said WSDOT did an excellent job in putting together a Power Point presentation that showed the delays and the delays in the future. The railroad bridge is unreasonable and obstructive. J. J. O’Connor-Fitzgerald said the members or their representatives of the Washington and Oregon Delegation were all present at the hearing. Chair Miller thanked Mr. O’Connor-Fitzgerald for his time in setting up this hearing and asked him to pass along RTC’s sincere appreciation to Congressman Baird for all his work.
John Fratt said without Representatives Val Ogden and Bill Fromhold, we would not have channel deepening monies through the state. He thanked them very much and acknowledged that everyone in SW Washington came together on that. The legislature with Senator Zarelli’s leadership put it into capital budget. That is very good in tough times to recognize the need of the channel deepening. It is on to get the Federal part done and there should be at some point in time a concurrency letter circulated from US Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries, and the Corp or Engineers.
IV. Consent Agenda
- March and April Claims
Chair Miller noted that the March meeting was cancelled, but the claims for March were approved by written consent with a quorum of members. Today’s approval would ratify that action.
CRAIG PRIDEMORE MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE RATIFICATION OF MARCH CLAIMS. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY ROYCE POLLARD AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
CRAIG PRIDEMORE MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE APRIL CLAIMS. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY ROYCE POLLARD AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
V. 2002 – 2004 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program, Resolution 04-02-07
Dale Robins said in order for local jurisdictions to receive federal transportation funds, their projects must be listed in the 2002-2004 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP). The MTIP includes a priority list of projects to be carried out in each of the next three years and a financial plan that demonstrates how the projects will be implemented. The MTIP development was carried out by a three-step process and includes a public participation process. The Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) has recommended RTC Board adoption of the 2002-2004 MTIP. Today’s action will drop the projects completed in 2001 and add in projects to be completed with 2004 funding. Mr. Robins highlighted those projects that were added including 192nd Av., SE 15th St. to SE 34th St.; Padden Parkway, Andresen to 94th Av.; SE 1st Street, 192nd to Leadbetter Way; Fruit Valley Road, 34th St. to Whitney Rd.; VAST Intelligent Transportation System Projects; C-TRAN Maintenance and Enhancement, and additional projects by WSDOT.
The list of projects must be financially constrained by year. Adoption today would also approve all three years of projects which would allow any projects listed in the MTIP to proceed on a first come basis. This means a project programmed in 2004 could be implemented in 2002. Mr. Robins said the list of projects for the three-year period attached to the resolution is only a part of the complete MTIP document. The complete MTIP document was available.
Action today is for adoption of Resolution 04-02-07, 2002-2004 MTIP that includes MPO authorization for approximately $54.4 million in federal funds over the next three years.
Thayer Rorabaugh asked overall how we were doing in spending these federal dollars. Mr. Robins said we have greatly improved in 2001. In 2000, we were behind, but we have caught up. Previously, most projects were in the design phase; now they are into the construction phase. He said we are reaching our obligation levels and will likely be ahead of them by the end of this year.
ROYCE POLLARD MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION 04-02-07, 2002-2004 METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY CRAIG PRIDEMORE AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
VI. Fiscal Year 2003 Unified Planning Work Program, Resolution 04-02-08
Lynda David said the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) details regional transportation activities that are anticipated for fiscal year 2003, which runs from July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003. Today’s action is for adoption of the UPWP together with the local MPO funding level, which is also tied to RTC’s 2002 Budget. The renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between Metro and RTC, originally signed in 1997, is also being requested. The draft UPWP has been reviewed by RTAC and by federal and state transportation representatives. They have given recommendation for adoption by the RTC Board.
Ms. David referred to page ii of the draft document and highlighted the key transportation issues facing the region. These include:
- Continue to plan for and provide transportation system improvements to accommodate the growth in Clark County. Between 1990 and 2001, Clark County’s population grew by 48 percent. Transportation system investments have not kept pace with this growth.
- Update the Metropolitan Transportation Plan
- Ensure that the region has transportation projects that are “ready to construct” should transportation funds become available. Projects have to be moved through the planning and environmental review phases before construction can proceed.
- Implement Transportation Demand Management and Transportation System Management measures and strategies to make the most efficient use of the existing transportation system.
- Deployment of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) projects, measures and strategies through implementation of the Vancouver Area Smart Trek (VAST) program developed cooperatively in the Clark County region.
- Work to address increasing bi-state transportation needs in cooperation with Metro, Portland, WSDOT and ODOT through the Bi-State Transportation Committee.
- Implement the recommendations of the Portland-Vancouver I-5 Transportation and Trade Partnership.
- Invest in transportation infrastructure to support the growth in family wage jobs in the region.
- Continue to review and provide technical assistance for local transportation concurrency programs.
- Address environmental issues relating to transportation, including seeking ways to reduce the transportation impacts on air quality and water quality and addressing environmental justice issues.
- Continue the congestion management program.
- Involve the public in identifying transportation needs, issues, and solutions in the region.
The FY 2003 program is separated into the following four major areas: (1) Regional Transportation Planning Program, (2) Data Management, Travel Forecasting, Air Quality and Technical Services, (3) Regional Transportation Program Coordination and Management, and (4) Transportation Planning Activities of State and Local Agencies. There are several individual work elements under each of these four areas. Ms. David highlighted some of these elements. Included is the continuation of the transportation planning work program for Skamania and Klickitat Counties. Ms. David noted the last page of the document is a summary of the budget listing FY 2003 Summary of Expenditures and Revenues by funding Source.
The purpose of this resolution is to request RTC Board approval and adoption of the FY 2003 UPWP, continuation of MPO local funding agreement, and also authorization for RTC Director to sign applications for federal funding, execute grant agreements, and file any assurances or required documentation. This would also approve continuation of the Metro/RTC Memorandum of Understanding.
Don Wagner said in reading the Memorandum of Understanding and updating that, there is no reference to the Bi-State Committee. He said since that has been chartered by both Metro and RTC, something should be noted in the Memorandum of Understanding. Mr. Lookingbill said this could be done by an amendment.
DON WAGNER MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION 04-02-08, FY 2003 UNIFIED PLANNING WORK PROGRAM WITH THE AMENDMENT TO THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AS NOTED. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY LYNNE GRIFFITH AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
VII. 2002 Washington State Legislature Wrap Up
Mr. Lookingbill said the 2002 Washington State Legislature passed several landmark transportation bills. The Legislature passed a current law bill, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2451. The current law bill retains the current revenue level which is adequate to continue maintenance, preservation and safety projects but does very little to expand transportation system capacity. It does allow those projects that are underway on I-5 to be completed, SR-500/Thurston Way, and the interchange at SR-14/192nd, but no opportunity beyond that for any capacity expansion. There was a clause that addressed the HOV lane in Vancouver. RTC Board did request the Governor to veto that. It was vetoed in current law budget, which essentially leaves the HOV decision to RTC and preserves the opportunity to continue the evaluation of the project’s performance, which in turn provides for an informed data-supported decision.
The new law transportation bill Senate Bill 6347 provides $7.7 billion in new statewide transportation revenues if it is approved by a majority vote in November. This would be raised through a 9 cent per gallon gas tax, phased in over two years. It includes a 30% increase in the truck weight fees and a 1% surcharge on vehicle sales.
The third major piece of legislation passed was Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6140 that would allow the three-county Puget Sound Region to band together to ask voter approval for up to $8.7 billion in new taxes to pay for transit and mega-highway projects.
Mr. Lookingbill said originally the new law budget and the regional bill were tied together. There was a clause in the regional bill that made it null and void if the new law budget did not pass. The Governor vetoed that section, so now the regional bill means the three-county region in the Puget Sound can proceed with their regional process.
Representative Val Ogden said there were actually four bills that were passed. Each dealing with separate issues. The New Law budget, which is the revenue budget, is the 9-cent gas tax; however, 8 cents of that is for transportation and 1 cent is for local projects. Also included is a sales refund on construction that goes into affect in 2006. The revenue bill also has a section on accountability. Representative Ogden said they felt this was very important. The revised bill is what will go to the voters. The project list is a separate bill. That is contingent on the new revenue bill being passed. People will not be voting on the document that includes the projects, but it will be very apparent what those projects are across the state.
From the beginning, the regional bill and the new law bill were tied together, which they felt was important. Ron Sims from Seattle put pressure on the Governor and prevailed. So the regional bill was separated out. That may make it more difficult in terms of what is going to happen in November. Realistically, there is concern about whether the regional bill in Seattle can get their act together in time to have anything on the ballot. That helps us. When you look at the new law bill, even if there is a lot of money for Seattle, they will not be able to fix their problem with the regional bill. This includes projects like the Alaska viaduct and the widening of 405. These are huge projects and no way with just their local funding could they get enough to try to take care of them. Representative Ogden said from the beginning, those in the House supported Ruth Fisher’s regional bill. There was a long process of negotiations before the bill was passed.
In the current law bill that was passed, the Governor did veto the HOV lane. This leaves it a little in the air, because he did not veto it in the new law budget. This gives RTC the opportunity to best handle the final decision. Representative Ogden said in the Capital budget, she wants to give credit to Senator Zarelli. He was very helpful in pushing that over to the House and encouraging his colleagues to vote not only for the project list, but also the Bond bill, which takes 60% approval.
Royce Pollard said that it was stated that voters will not vote on the project list; they will vote on the revenue bill itself. He asked in what form is the commitment to the citizens that when they vote for that package, those projects are the ones that they will get. Representative Ogden said that is because the projects are all listed in the new law budget, SB6347.
Mr. Lookingbill said that the New Law projects for Clark County were included in the meeting packet. The projects were broke down by phase (preliminary engineering, right of way, and construction) giving the dollar amount for each, the project estimate, and the difference. Mr. Lookingbill said a number of these projects are in the early study stages for receiving funding.
Don Wagner said this information is laid out well, but not only did the legislature earmark projects, they also earmarked phases of projects. He said as an example the 219th St. Interchange project has $8.2 million listed for right of way costs. The right of way cost may only be about $3 million. The old logic was to just take that extra $5 million and put it to construction. In an earmarked bill as this was, that money is not available to move into construction. It goes back to in this case the Governor and through OFM to determine where in the state that money will go to. The law is very specific on who gets to move around those dollars.
Craig Pridemore asked in the project estimate cost of $80,000,000 for the I-5/134th St. Interchange, what this covered. Don Wagner said he believes this is the work that Clark County was planning as well as WSDOT. He said he believes this covers the interchange, and the park and ride, and some of the other over-crossings may have to come later.
Mr. Lookingbill distributed the language contained in Engrossed Second Substitute Bill 6140 that addresses the process to set up a Regionalism process in regions outside of the Puget Sound. This addresses the need to have flexibility in other regions such as Clark County to determine what their regionalism process would look like. It also makes grants available to pursue the process. Mr. Lookingbill asked Board members if they wished to pursue a regionalism process. Representative Ogden said there is $200,000 available for regional groups to apply for planning. Arch Miller asked if this money was available whether Referendum 51 passes or not. Representative Ogden said she thought this money come with the new law budget if it passes. She would confirm this.
Thayer Rorabaugh said he thought the regionalism issue is something that we should pursue. The Blue Ribbon Committee worked really hard to try and develop the parameters for this. He said during last session, they had worked with the Legislature to create a model. The City of Vancouver came up with what they thought their belief was and how it could work for them. Unfortunately, that did not make it through the legislature and we need to deal with it now. He proposed that at this point, we not necessarily say how we will do it, but should we place it on the table and begin the process, go after the $200,000 and put together a committee that can work through this. The committee could be a broader committee than just RTC members, possibly other interests in the area could be included to pull this together. Another opportunity that could be at the end of that process would be to create some options for a local revenue package that also didn’t make it through the legislature this time around. It may begin to help us create our legislative agenda for the next session. This way should they approve our regionalism proposal, we would also have the local funding mechanism to go with it.
Arch Miller asked if it was necessary to know if the funding was indeed available now or if it is after Referendum 51. The next step might be a memo to be presented to the RTC Board at their May meeting outlining how to go about doing this. Craig Pridemore said it appears this is something that we can put together and present it to the legislature for their consideration. He suggested waiting to structure something until June after the I-5 Partnership Study has been completed to incorporate any of those decisions. Mr. Lookingbill asked if the Board wanted to include our state legislative delegation as we did in the prioritization process. We may want to include them when structuring who sits on the committee as well. Thayer Rorabaugh said it needs to be understood that Referendum 51 does not fund all the projects on the list and that there needs to be local revenue that is generated.
Royce Pollard said the Puget Sound Regionalism is moving forward regardless of what we do. He said it would be in our best interest to get started with the preliminaries. As Commissioner Pridemore said, not doing anything full blown until after we know the outcome of some of the studies, but consider the options and possibilities that we have. First find out about the $200,000, and then start listing some of the options. Dean Lookingbill said that there were previous meetings regarding regionalism, prior to the Governor’s decision. We can pick up where we left off and structure and go from there. Chair Miller asked Dean to bring this back to the Board.
Sharon Wylie said that having clarity on regional ideas in line going into the legislature, with principles and thinking up front, is very helpful to both her and Mark Brown and encouraged the early start.
Mr. Lookingbill said the Current Law Bill had language in it that would prevent HOV lanes unless we had two and one-half times the park and ride spaces that are now available on I-5, or until the I-5 Bridge is retrofitted to include four southbound general-purpose lanes. This was vetoed out of Current Law Budget. The HOV project is currently being evaluated with a second round of data collection. It may be that at the May meeting we may want to have that data available for a full discussion.
Don Wagner said last month in March, a second series of data was collected on I-5 for the HOV lane along with another public opinion survey. He said a draft report is expected from the consultants by mid-April and completed for the May meeting. He said the report would be presented at the May RTC Board meeting for discussion. Mr. Wagner said he has had a request from a citizen for the raw data prior to the completion of the report. If that is released, RTC Board members will also receive the information along with who received it.
Mr. Wagner said the Current Law Budget is the budget that he has to work with today until new law is approved. When it came out of the Legislature, as of the first of April, there is a $96.7 million hole in current law budget. This results in a $2 million budget cut to the Southwest Region. Mr. Wagner distributed a handout listing projects in this region that will be affected by the reduction. He highlighted how each project would be impacted, noting that this would also affect his staff level for the SW Region. The reductions will be presented to the Washington Transportation Commission at their next meeting on April 17.
Ed Barnes voiced his concern of the impacts the budget cuts and specific earmarking of projects will have. He said this ties the hands of the Commission and takes away the flexibility for the Department to do the job that is necessary. He also feels that the Legislature needs to be made aware of the impacts that Referendum 51 will have.
Sharon Wylie said again that having a plan and coordination between her and Mark Brown helps us a lot. With Puget Sound having their needs taken care of, she feels there is a better chance for us to get a regional plan that will help us.
Mark Brown said the City of Vancouver was very disappointed with the regionalism issue. He agreed that we would now have time to come to grips with the issue as a region. We have been ahead of the curve, probably more advocacy on this than any other region outside King County. We have a unified message, so the more we can work this, the more it is to our advantage. He said in reference to the project list, that it is a concern and something that we need to watch.
Mr. Brown said that he had spoke with Stu Elway, who is this state’s most regarded pollster. He has just completed the statewide poll on Referendum 51. It is interesting that the poll showed 54% yes and 46% no, but only one county in the state of Washington has majority support for that Referendum at this point in time and that is King County. 67% of the yes votes come from King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. Mr. Brown said he tried to get a sense of what his data showed for Southwest Washington and Clark County in particular, but his numbers were so small when isolated to that degree, that he felt uncomfortable accept to say there clearly is not majority here for that package.
VIII. Other Business
From the Board
Royce Pollard said that he wanted Representative Ogden to know how much we appreciate her consistent dedication to this County and the City of Vancouver. He said it has always been on a high level and thanked her.
Mayor Pollard said the General George C. Marshall Lecture this year is on Friday, May 3 at noon at Hudson’s Bay High School. U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii will deliver the lecture. He said to contact his office to get tickets, and hopes everyone is able to attend.
Craig Pridemore said he felt the minutes should reflect the passing of John K. Spence. While he was a frequent critic of this areas goals, he was certainly very sincere and a very energetic activist.
From the Director
Mr. Lookingbill said the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board was in town on March 15 for the first time. We were able to give them a presentation that talked about our freight issues. The Port of Vancouver and Port of Ridgefield were present and gave presentations and Mr. Lookingbill had had discussions with the Port of Camas/Washougal prior to the meeting. The Board was given a good flavor of the freight issues in our region. The Freight Mobility Board works with the funding of freight mobility projects. We do not have a freight mobility project available just yet.
Mr. Lookingbill noted JPACT would meet on April 11, 2002.
The next RTC Board meeting will be held on May 7, 2002 at 4 p.m.
It is an important time in the I-5 Partnership Study. The Governors’ Task Force is meetings on April 23 and April 30. More information will be discussed at the May 7 Board meeting.
The Eight Point Access Studies for I-5 and I-205 have been passed from the local WSDOT SW Region office on to Olympia before they are handed off to Federal Highways. The RTC Board will be updated as the studies move ahead.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:25 p.m.
Regional Transportation Council
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