Below are the minutes for the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors Meeting, held on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, at 4:00 p.m. at the Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin Street, 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 Jack Burkman on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, at 4:05 p.m. at the Clark County Public Service Center Sixth Floor Training Room, 1300 Franklin Street, Vancouver, Washington. Attendance follows.
Board Members Present Nancy Baker, Port of Vancouver Commissioner
Marc Boldt, Clark County Commissioner
Jack Burkman, Vancouver Council Member
Molly Coston, Washougal Council Member
Bill Ganley, Battle Ground Council Member
Bart Gernhart, WSDOT Alternate
Tim Leavitt, Vancouver City Mayor
Tom Mielke, Clark County Commissioner
Scott Patterson, C-TRAN Alternate
Paul Pearce, Skamania County Commissioner
Board Members Absent
Rex Burkholder, Metro Councilor
Jeff Hamm, C-TRAN Executive Director
David Poucher, White Salmon Mayor
Steve Stuart, Clark County Commissioner
Jason Tell, ODOT Region One Manager
Don Wagner, WSDOT Regional Administrator
Jim Honeyford, Senator 15th District
Bruce Chandler, Representative 15th District
David Taylor, Representative 15th District
Don Benton, Senator 17th District
Tim Probst, Representative 17th District
Paul Harris, Representative 17th District
Joe Zarelli, Senator 18th District
Ed Orcutt, Representative 18th District
Ann Rivers, Representative 18th District
Craig Pridemore, Senator 49th District
Jim Moeller, Representative 49th District
Sharon Wylie, Representative 49th District
Ed Barnes, Citizen
Katy Brooks, Port of Vancouver
Peter Capell, Clark County
Bill Creger, David Evans & Assoc.
Jim Karlock, Citizen
Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Vancouver Neighborhood Alli.
Sharon Nasset, Third Bridge Now
Jerry Oliver, Port of Vancouver Commissioner
Ron Onslow, Ridgefield Mayor
Philip Parker, WA Transportation Commissioner
Kimberly Pincheira, Senator Cantwell’s Office
Steve Prastka, Citizen
Thayer Rorabaugh, City of Vancouver
Scott Sawyer, City of Battle Ground
Larry J. Smith, Vancouver Council Member
Axel Swanson, Clark County
Bill Wright, Clark County
Sharon Zimmerman, WSDOT
Lynda David, Senior Transportation Planner
Mark Harrington, Senior Transportation Planner
Bob Hart, Transportation Section Supervisor
Dean Lookingbill, Transportation Director
Dale Robins, Senior Transportation Planner
Diane Workman, Administrative Assistant
II. Approval of September 6, 2011, Meeting Minutes
BILL GANLEY MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE SEPTEMBER 6, 2011, MEETING MINUTES. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY NANCY BAKER AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
III. Citizen Communications
Sharon Nasset, Portland, said the CRC Locally Preferred Alternative will be a job killer and damaging to our region. She noted the businesses and jobs that would be impacted on Jantzen Beach and in Vancouver. NEPA requires that benefits and impacts are looked at through construction and after construction. Ms. Nasset said taking the toll money out of the economy is damaging to our region.
Ed Barnes, Vancouver, said the Port of Portland is going to put in a multi-million dollar terminal at Hayden Island which will provide more jobs. The CRC will provide 10,000 construction jobs, 5,000 related jobs, and another 4,000-5,000 jobs that have to do with the local businesses on each side of the river that will gain customers by the people who will be using those facilities. Mr. Barnes said a few jobs may be lost, but many more good paying jobs will be gained by building the bridge. He encouraged everyone to get the bridge built.
IV. Consent Agenda
- October Claims
- Unified Planning Work Program STP Funds, Resolution 10-11-16
- TSMO Intergovernmental Agreement with Clark County, Resolution 10-11-17
TIM LEAVITT MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF THE CONSENT AGENDA OCTOBER CLAIMS, RESOLUTION 10-11-16 AND RESOLUTION 10-11-17. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY MARC BOLDT AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
V. 2012-2015 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program, Resolution 10-11-18
Dale Robins referred to the resolution included in the meeting packet along with the draft 2012-2015 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program document provided at the table. The purpose of the resolution is to seek RTC Board adoption of the MTIP program and concurrence with regional project selection.
The MTIP is a four-year funding program of regionally significant transportation projects. This document lists the projects that are expected to obligate transportation funding over the next four years. Funding must be secured prior to their listing in the MTIP. This document includes projects selected through the regional selection process for both the current and previous years, as well as projects that have been selected through state and other processes.
Mr. Robins said they continue to use the three-step regional selection process as noted in the resolution. In August, the Regional Transportation Advisory Committee completed the first two steps of the process resulting in a prioritized ranking of projects. In September, RTAC recommended project selection and adoption of the 2012-2015 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program.
Mr. Robins explained the unusual situation that has put the region in a positive position to help the economy. A few months ago, the region received a 2012 and a revised 2011 federal allocation of dollars, which resulted in the region having approximately $3 million in additional STP funds. The region also experienced unanticipated project delays. To get these funds working for our region as quickly as possible, they are proposing the RTC’s limit on federal funds be increased from $2 million to $3 million per mile for projects that will go to construction in 2012. The condition placed on the additional funds is that the project must be obligated in 2012 or funds will be reallocated through the 2013 MTIP process. This makes it essential that local agencies deliver their projects on time. If they do not, the funds will be reallocated to the highest ranking project in 2013.
Mr. Robins referred to page three of the resolution listing the projects to receive a boost in federal funding. All of these projects have previously received federal dollars, but the regional increase in federal dollars will help these projects to be delivered in 2012 and strengthen the economy through job creation. Most of these projects will add jobs to the region in both 2012 and 2013. The following projects will receive increases: Vancouver’s NE 137th Avenue project, $1 million; Clark County’s NE 88th Street project, $1.5 million; Camas’ NW 38th Avenue/SE 20th Street project, $600,000; Battle Ground’s SE Grace Avenue project, $300,000; and Clark County’s Timmen Road project, $100,000. This would add $3.5 million in needed funding for 2012 construction projects.
Mr. Robins highlighted the projects that were selected through the regular selection process and their funding amount. Page three of the resolution lists these projects to receive STP funding and projects to receive CMAQ funding between 2012 and 2014. Overall, the current selection process will add almost $11 million in regionally selected federal funds. This is a significant investment in transportation infrastructure over the next few years. Much of this investment will be used to leverage additional state and federal grants into our region. This is an important component of our MTIP process. Mr. Robins referred to page 24 of the MTIP document. This begins the summary list of projects by calendar year and funding source. Detailed information about each project begins on page 32 of the document and is listed by jurisdiction. Mr. Robins noted that there likely will be a few minor edits to projects, but nothing that substantially changes the project.
In addition, Mr. Robins noted that the full MTIP document includes other items required in a Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program, such as an explanation of the MTIP development process, MPO Certification Statement, and a financial plan.
The action before the RTC Board is adoption of Resolution 10-11-18, 2012-2015 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program. This adoption will encompass the following: MPO authorization of the 2012-2015 MTIP, including $102.8 million in federal transportation funds and a total project cost of $363 million; MPO conformance with federal guidelines; certification of RTC’s planning process; and selection of all four years of projects, meaning projects can proceed on a first come basis no matter what year they are programmed in.
TIM LEAVITT MOVED FOR APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION 10-11-18.
Mayor Leavitt said the MTIP is illustrative of how much infrastructure investment is necessary. He said the City of Vancouver’s six-year Transportation Improvement Program is about $450 million of identified projects. Mayor Leavitt said it was probably very similar with the other municipalities and WSDOT and all of their needs. We have a lot of work to do in order to invest in transportation infrastructure and future prosperity of our region.
THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY BILL GANLEY AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
VI. 2011 Metropolitan Transportation Plan Update
Lynda David said this month’s MTP update would focus on two key elements: revenues forecast and 2035 growth forecast by subarea with corresponding transportation investments. Ms. David noted the memo included in the meeting packet and a set of map handouts that were distributed to members. She said the MTP is the long-range plan for the region’s transportation system -required by the federal government as a condition for receipt of federal transportation funding to this region. The MTP update needs to be adopted by the end of 2011 to ensure uninterrupted receipt of federal funds for local transportation projects. Ms. David provided a brief recap of last month’s review of the Regional Transportation System.
Bob Hart presented information on the MTP finance plan. He said a draft forecast comparing revenues to project costs for the 2035 MTP Financial Plan element has been completed. This analysis indicates that the proposed draft list of MTP projects on the designated MTP system meets the federally required fiscal constrained test. The fiscally constrained test means that there should be a reasonable expectation that revenue will be available to match the cost for the list of MTP projects. Mr. Hart noted that the CRC project is being dealt with separately. It is a mega project, and its funding strategy is apart from the fiscally constrained MTP.
The total cost of MTP projects has been developed from the State Highway System Plan as well as the capital facilities plans from local agencies. Mr. Hart highlighted the overall method RTC used to develop the revenue forecast for federal, state, and local revenue. It was recognized that some new revenue was needed to help meet the cost of the MTP. The MTP revenue forecast assumes an equivalent of a new 10 cent/gallon gas tax implemented over 6 years beginning in 2015, with 5 cents in 2015 and 1 cent per year for 5 years. The total estimated costs for system preservation and maintenance was subtracted from the revenue total, which results in revenue available for capital projects. The revenue estimate also accounted for the total revenue generated in Clark County versus the amount of revenue Clark County receives. Given recent trends, a return on investment factor of 85% was applied to total revenue to estimate revenue available to Clark County. Mr. Hart said the last step in estimating total available revenue was to account for projects in the MTP that are not yet built but have the funds already programmed for their construction. These projects would likely be constructed over the next seven years and amount to $471 million in costs, therefore, this same amount was subtracted from future revenues.
The WSDOT Strategic Planning and Finance Division provides historical information for all counties and cities across the state. The local revenue data also includes historical expenditures that account for debt service, preservation and maintenance, and construction. Future revenue is estimated following a similar methodology as was used to estimate the federal and state revenue. Debt service, preservation and maintenance, and traffic policing costs are subtracted from the total to reach the amount of local revenue available for MTP projects
Transit revenue and cost estimates were based on C-TRAN’s adopted 2030 Plan. Costs and revenues were expanded out to 2035 and reflected additional bus replacement, capital maintenance and other capital repair and replacement. Transit capital costs include all C-TRAN capital projects except for the CRC project.
Other factors affecting revenue forecasts include the following: assumes new state revenue equivalent to a 10 cent tax, as previously stated; does not account for new fuel efficiency standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025; and current discussion in Congress points to reduced funding in the next federal authorization.
Mr. Hart referred to a table included in the meeting memo showing the total MTP capital costs. The table provides an estimate of the entire MTP system, while the subtotal line is the estimate for the MTP designated regional system. Also provided were two pie charts that compare project costs and revenues that are only for the MTP designated system. The federal requirement to demonstrate “fiscal constraint” applies only to the designated regional system, which this demonstrates.
Tim Leavitt referred back to the MTP capital cost comparison chart. He said given the amount that is anticipated to be spent on roadway investment, there is also about a 10-12% cost for transit investment. He said this deflates the idea that is heard about a lack of prioritization for roadway investment and too much is spent on transit. He said it is apparent in the pie chart that we recognize our roadway infrastructure needs and planning ahead for this community.
Mark Harrington said at the September Board meeting, a preliminary MTP project list was introduced along with preliminary results of the Regional Travel Forecasting Model. The model uses land use inputs, primarily household and employment geographic distribution to estimate travel demand and then combines travel demand with highway and transit networks to estimate future travel patterns and volumes on roadways. The draft 2035 travel forecast is based on land use inputs from the Comprehensive Plan and RTC’s 2035 population and employment forecast. The future highway and transit network have been developed from the projects identified in WSDOT’s Highway System Plan, C-TRAN’s Transit Development Plan, and local jurisdictions’ capital facilities plans.
Initial modeling results focused on the growth in travel demand and the performance of the transportation system. The analysis showed that while the growth in travel demand increases, the amount of congestion on Clark County’s transportation system between the base year and future year, the draft MTP recommended system reduces the level of congestion by half when compared with the currently funded system.
Mr. Harrington referred to a packet of map handouts. These were a series of five subareas (Battle Ground, Camas/Washougal, Discovery Corridor, East Vancouver, and West Vancouver). Listed for each subarea are the draft MTP recommended system investment on WSDOT and local facilities as well as the total investment combined. There is also a list of major MTP projects in the area. Household and employment growth was shown for each subarea. The map also showed the draft MTP System over capacity and the Fully Funded System over capacity. Mr. Harrington highlighted each of the subareas and their major MTP projects. There was a discrepancy in a number on the Discovery Corridor subarea slide and the number on the handout. Chair Burkman asked that corrected copies of the subarea handouts be electronically sent out to members.
Tim Leavitt asked if there would be discussion about the Connecting Washington Task Force. Mr. Lookingbill said he planned to discuss that during other business. Mayor Leavitt said they are having discussions at the state level about transportation infrastructure. He said it becomes more apparent at the local level that relying on state and federal dollars to be a crutch that we rest on to finance projects slowly fading away. He said he thought we should think seriously about financing tools and options so we can fund our needed projects. He said he would like further information about an opportunity for us local elected officials to create our own Clark County Connecting Task Force to talk about options that we might need to look at at the local level and possibly present to the voters here as opportunities to fund our transportation infrastructure. He said it is something that he is interested in and happy to engage with others around the table as we think about investment in the future of our community.
Chair Burkman said there is a lot of information here. He said he shared the Mayor’s concerns. Estimates of some form of financing are used because the MTP needs to be fiscally constrained. We don’t know what the financial package is going to be. This is a starting point, and we keep working on it year after year. We don’t know what the changes at the state and federal level are going to be. We will change the Plan accordingly. Bottom line, this shows that we have billions of dollars of investment needed.
In summary, Mark Harrington said this regional system investment reduces the future level of congestion by half when compared with the currently funded system. He said at last month’s meeting, there were some questions regarding auto travel time changes. Mr. Harrington displayed a bar chart with average auto travel time in PM peak of 2005 and 2035. Trips in Oregon back to Clark County increases by 7 minutes (36 minutes to 43 minutes) and Clark County to Clark County increases by 2 minutes (10 minutes to 12 minutes). With congestion, they are seeing some increases in travel times during the peak hour. Mr. Harrington said there was also a question of trip length. He displayed a bar chart with average auto travel distance for all trips in 2005 and 2035. For within Clark County to everywhere in their model system including the Portland metropolitan area they see a slight decrease from 2005 to 2035 of the average trip length. The Clark County Urban Core to everywhere is again a slight decrease in trip length. The satellite cities (Camas, Washougal, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, La Center), there is a decrease, as well as rural Clark County to everywhere seeing a decrease.
Chair Burkman said these results are consistent with making the MTP investments. He asked if the report would say what it would be if we didn’t make the investments. Mr. Harrington said as for trip distances, they would be fairly consistent. Travel times would be higher. Trip distances would stay about the same because of the land use patterns.
Lynda David said staff will report back to the RTC Board at the November meeting when it is anticipated that draft sections of the Plan will be reviewed with a focus on modal elements. She said they are finishing drafts of the MTP’s chapters and will review with RTAC. They will circulate the draft MTP and continue to seek public comment. Page 6 of the memo listed the dates and times of MTP open houses and meeting. Ms. David said the MTP is based on the comprehensive plans for the local jurisdictions. It is also based on adopted state plans including the Highway System Plan. She said just this morning, they were having discussions with WSDOT staff because they are basing the MTP on the Highway System Plan adopted in 2007, but they know the next update of the Highway System Plan may not have all the projects that we have in the MTP. She said things are evolving all the time.
Tom Mielke said we see the list of projects and the wish list with no funding. He said it seems we are stuck in a rut when we go to look for funding. We haven’t addressed anything to do that differently, or build it differently. He said he thinks we have increased the cost of things by adding things to a roadway. We have this shortage of dollars. When a road is constructed, and things are added like barriers and beautification, and we are going to do it with gas tax, it is not realistic. Commissioner Mielke said with the cars we now have, they are lighter and have less wear on the road. We are going with different types with electric and hydrogen. He said we need to look at how we are going to ask the hydrogen and electric cars to pay their fair share. We have not done that. He said he would like to see doing the same thing with less dollars.
Bart Gernhart said in terms of doing more with less, WSDOT has been working with the City of Washougal and the Port of Camas Washougal and their consultant on a section of SR-14 from 6th Avenue to 32nd Street. They have come up with a plan that will be shared with the RTC Board in the near future. It cuts the cost in about half. It focuses on the primary needs; the need for the City to have economic development and take advantage of the SR-14 corridor. This supplies access off SR-14 and at the same time addresses safety and congestion. Mr. Gernhart said staff is trying to make those kinds of changes. He said we need that philosophy on some of the concepts that have been around for ten years. He said look at something less than full standard of building everything, and shift focus on the primary needs, jobs, safety, and congestion into the future.
Tim Leavitt asked if there was a rule of thumb of a typical road project how much percentage wise is geared toward pedestrian connectivity or landscaping, storm water facilities, bike lanes, etc. Mr. Gernhart said no, that it really varies dramatically on urban versus rural roads. He used 219th as an example with not much there, versus St. John’s which has a bike and pedestrian crossing, a tunnel, and wider bridges, a lot of different issues. It really depends on the project. On 18th Street they are looking a wide shoulders and wide pedestrian paths to meet the City’s needs. Mayor Leavitt said so if we think about planning for the future, it may be a viable alternative to go to a more basic or core improvement with travel lanes, striping, and no real pedestrian facilities. In the urban setting, we certainly want to be sure to address our connectivity for pedestrians, such as their Evergreen Highway pedestrian path, which is a dangerous situation. Mayor Levitt said we need to start thinking outside the box. The funding opportunities are more scarce. He said as vehicles become more and more efficient and other options are being used, gas taxes are not going to be there to get funding for transportation. Vehicles miles traveled may be the new source of revenues in lieu of gas taxes. Mayor Leavitt complemented Governor Gregoire on putting together the Connecting Washington Task Force. He said it is a model that we could to an extent follow here at the local level. They are “charged with developing a financially sustainable 10-year funding strategy for the state’s transportation system and presenting it to the 2012 Legislature.” Mayor Leavitt said we could take on a function like that at the local level.
Paul Pearce said that vehicle miles traveled pushes everyone to move to town. He said there needs to be a balance with rural areas. He agreed with the Mayor that there needs to be a change. Commissioner Pearce said they are putting in two charging stations in Stevenson. They are doing that because they want to draw those folks out of the Portland metropolitan area that are visiting and can make that trip now. At the same time, he said what do you tell a cherry grower in Wenatchee or a wine maker in Okanogan that they are going to somehow be charged for the miles that you drive versus some other mechanism.
VII. Other Business
From the Board
Bart Gernhart provided a brief update on a few projects in the area.
St. John’s/SR-500 – There has been a delay on the next phase. The next phase requires steel. There was some flooding in Pennsylvania, and that has slowed down the delivery of the steel. They hope to get that delivery by the end of the month. They are waiting for the delivery and not moving to the next phase, because it has more traffic impacts. They don’t want to cause more impacts. The phase to begin at the end of the month will shift traffic to the east. It will be two lanes for about four months and will build spans over the creek and culvert on the west side. Once that is complete and they bring up the walls, they will shift traffic back over to the west side. Traffic will stay on the west side, one lane in each direction with no left turns, right in and right out, and through traffic only on St. John’s. That will stay in place until they finish the bridge and all the walls.
SR-14 – Early next year, they plan to shift traffic to the south on the frontage road. They have finished the work in the water for the east Camas slough bridge. They are going to start pulling the asphalt off of the bridge deck and do deck work for the long west Camas slough bridge and do the rail work. It will take about a year to do that work. Mr. Barnhart said it is going to be very narrow, and they will slow traffic to a posted 25 mph. The idea is to cut off the existing rails, and do a minor widening on the outside enough to put a barrier down the middle and still get 3 ½ to 4 foot shoulders for cyclists. They have to narrow the lanes to allow space for construction equipment and workers.
Salmon Creek Interchange – Phase 1 is underway. They are adding a lane in each direction from 134th up to 179th Street. They are also adding water treatment facilities. In addition, they are constructing the second off-ramp lane to the Hospital on I-205 northbound. The next phase of that will be building the 139th Street overcrossing and more ramp work. That should go out to contract early next year. They are still acquiring some properties. The park and ride lot is now open in the new location.
From the Director
Dean Lookingbill referred to the handout of the Connecting Washington Task Force that Mayor Leavitt had referenced. He noted that we have a representative from our region on the Task Force, Tim Schauer, Chair-Elect, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Lookingbill said he has asked Mr. Schauer to attend the November 1 Board meeting to talk about that process and what is underway.
Mr. Lookingbill noted the CRC Project Sponsors Council that was to meet on Tuesday, October 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 12 Noon at WSDOT SW Region has been cancelled. The next meeting of the Project Sponsors Council will meet on December 15, same time and location. C-TRAN meets on Tuesday, October 11 at 5:30 p.m. at C-TRAN, and JPACT meets Thursday, October 13, at 7:30 a.m. at Metro.
The next RTC Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 1, 2011, at 4 p.m.
BILL GANLEY MOVED FOR ADJOURNMENT. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED BY TIM LEAVITT AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:10 p.m.
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