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

Draft 2018 RTP Update Now Available for Public Comment
Your input on Clark County’s existing and future transportation system is important to us. A draft version of the 2018 Regional Transportation Plan update is now available for public comment. The formal public comment period will run through February 25, 2019. The RTC Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 to consider adoption of the RTP update.
Clark County’s Aging Population has Important Transportation Needs
The Clark County Commission on Aging has published a report highlighting the results of a years long effort to identify the County’s needs and to highlight potential strategies for helping aging residents access mobility options. This effort was running concurrent with RTC’s study of the residents social service needs and access to transportation mobility. RTC’s Human Services Transportation Plan and project recommendations was approved by the RTC Board in November 2018. Clark County’s Commission on Aging is hosting a community summit on February 21 to share their report recommendations and to foster community dialogue regarding taking action. RTC is a co-sponsor to this event and will participate in the summit.
Major Regional Roadway Connection Completed
Clark County is nearing completion of significant regional transportation system project on NE 10th Ave. When opened for traffic, the corridor will serve as a parallel arterial roadway route, serving local business and residential development growth planned for the Salmon Creek and Fairgrounds / NE 179th interchange areas. RTC was a funding partner to a series of projects in the NE 10th Ave corridor. RTC granted $1 million in seed funding to get the bridge design started on NE 10th Avenue over Whipple Creek (154th St. to 164th St). Design funds were obligated in 2013. RTC granted $1,840,000 for construction, for a total of $2.84 million for the bridge project. In addition, RTC granted $2.46 million on NE 10th Avenue for improvements between NE 141st St. and 149th St. (previously constructed and opened to traffic).
WSDOT Selects Regional Mobility Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently recommended that the Legislature fund one project in Clark County and one project in Klickitat County for a total of $5.22 million in Washington State Regional Mobility Grants. C-TRAN would receive $4.9 million to design and construct an I-5 southbound Bus on Shoulder project from NE 99th Street to the Interstate Bridge. MATS in Klickitat County will receive continuing funding of $320,000 to provide express fixed route service to improve connectivity between counties in the Columbia Gorge Region in both Washington and Oregon.
WSDOT Recommends Pedestrian and Bicycle Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently recommended that the Legislature fund two pedestrian and bicycle projects in the City of Vancouver. Under the Pedestrian and Bicycle Program, the City of Vancouver would receive $489,000 to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on Devine Road. Under the Safe Routes to School Program, the City of Vancouver would receive $500,000 to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood.
Transportation Improvement Board Grants Awarded
The Washington State TIB funds high priority transportation projects in communities throughout the state to enhance the movement of people, goods, and services. The City of Vancouver was awarded $3 million for transportation improvements on SE 1st Street, from SE 164th Ave. to SE 177th Ave. In addition, a total of $445,152 was awarded between Goldendale, White Salmon, and Stevenson to restore road surface at multiple locations.
Skamania Regional Transportation Plan Adopted
The RTC Board adopted a 2018 update to the RTP for Skamania County at its November 6 meeting. The RTP is the long-range, twenty-year, transportation plan. Adoption of the 2018 Plan concluded a year-long process during which Plan elements, such demographic projections and transportation improvements and strategies, were reviewed and updated. The region’s highest priority transportation improvements include enhancement of SR-14 near Cape Horn, SR-14 intersection improvements at Bridge of the Gods and Hot Spring Way, and rockfall protection.
Klickitat Regional Transportation Plan Adopted
The RTC Board adopted a 2018 update to the RTP for Klickitat County at its November 6 meeting. The RTP is the long-range, twenty-year, transportation plan. Adoption of the 2018 Plan concluded a year-long process during which Plan elements, such demographic projections and transportation improvements and strategies, were reviewed and updated. The region’s highest priority transportation improvements include replacement of the Hood River Bridge, All-Weather County Roads, and SR-14 in downtown Bingen.
Human Services Transportation Plan Updated
The 2018 update to the HSTP for Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties was recently completed. The intent of the HSTP is to identify the special transportation needs of people with disabilities, low income, the young, the elderly, and those in rural areas who cannot provide transportation for themselves.
RTC Board Awards $7.6 million to Fund Critical Transportation Projects
On October 2, the RTC Board selected 7 projects to receive approximately $7.6 million in regionally allocated federal transportation funds. Projects will be programmed in 2022, and include funding for arterial improvements along 137th Ave., NE 99th St., and Grace Avenue. Funding will also be used for Bus Rapid Transit along Mill Plain Blvd. In addition to selecting grants, the RTC Board approved the 2019-2022 Transportation Improvement Program, which indicates a funding commitment for approximately $332 million in regional transportation investments over the next four years within Clark County.
Transportation Council Backs Replacement for I-5 Bridge
The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors passed a resolution supporting the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge with high-capacity transit with a dedicated guideway. The resolution, which was passed during the RTC’s meeting Tuesday evening, cites the crossing’s significance to the Vancouver-Portland metro area, the I-5 corridor, the West Coast and the nation, as well as the crippling traffic congestion it’s plagued with.
WSDOT Selects Bridge Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently selected four local projects to receive approximately $1.84 million in federal funds for local bridge improvements. The bridges to be improved include the Washougal River Bridge (Camas), Lehto Bridge (Clark County), Smith Bridge (Clark County), and Salmon Creek Bridge (Clark County). The local bridge program focus is to preserve and improve the condition of local bridges that are physically deteriorated or structurally deficient through replacement, rehabilitation, and systematic preventive maintenance.
WSDOT Selects County Safety Grants
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently selected two projects in Clark County and one project in Klickitat County to receive a total of $1.96 million from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). Clark County will be making safety improvements at NE 259th Street/NE 72nd Avenue intersection and NE 63rd Street/NE 58th Avenue intersection. Klickitat County will be upgrading curve warning signs. The HSIP program requires that all safety improvements be consistent with Washington State’s Safety Highway Plan (Target Zero).
Region Continues to Innovate with Low-Cost Freeway Improvements
In November 2014, the RTC Board adopted recommendations to address long- and short-term roadway improvements and transit operations in the I-205 corridor, as well a set of operational policies for regional freeway corridors in the region. Regional partners continue to deliver on those Plan recommendations. Since Plan adoption, C-TRAN and WSDOT have partnered to deploy a pilot study of shoulder running bus operations on SR-14. And in addition to completing the NE 18th St. interchange, WSDOT has recently implemented a low-cost restriping of the I-205 and SR-500 interchange merge area to improve traffic flow, and implementation of ramp meters to improve freeway flow will be coming in the near future.
Regional Transportation Plan Update Begins
The RTP is Clark County’s long-range plan covering all modes of transportation. The current RTP was adopted in 2014. RTC is now beginning an update to the Plan, using 2040 as the horizon year, to be adopted in late 2018. Through 2017 and most of 2018, various topics have and will be considered as the RTP is updated. Those include: transportation policies, changing regional demographics, transportation trends, use of performance measures to evaluate how the transportation system is working, needed transportation projects and programs, as well as a financial plan for the transportation system. For more information, and to provide your input, visit the 2018 RTP Update web page.

News Feed

Below are an assortment of recent news items related to or impacting local transportation issues. Most of these stories were authored outside the agency, and will take you to a new page on (or PDF document from) an external site.

Oregon official releases Columbia River Crossing review - February 13, 2019
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has released his office’s review of the history of the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing project, and its recommendations for a more successful next try. The report released Wednesday summarizes the history of the Columbia River Crossing, from the construction of the Interstate 5 Bridge in 1917, to the formation of the two-state Columbia River Crossing project team in 2004 to the dissolution of the project in 2014. The report reviews the various planning, design and political issues that hindered the project’s progress on to its end, when Washington’s Senate turned down a funding package for the project to complement Oregon’s $450 million share, effectively ending the project.
Report: I-5 Bridge is nation’s 29th worst bottleneck - February 12, 2019
The Interstate 5 Bridge ranks as the nation’s 29th worst bottleneck on a top 100 list and the worst in Washington, according to American Transportation Research Institute findings issued Tuesday. The 2019 Top Truck Bottleneck List assesses the level of truck-oriented congestion at 300 locations on the national highway system. The analysis, based on truck GPS data from nearly 1 million heavy-duty trucks, uses customized software and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations to produce a congestion-impact ranking for each location, the institute said in a news release. The institute’s findings show that traveling on the I-5 Bridge between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. traffic flows at 50 mph to 55 mph. Traveling outside that window, as any veteran I-5 Bridge driver knows, and you’re taking your chances.
Washington state to end emissions testing - January 31, 2019
Nearly 40 years after Washington began checking vehicles’ emissions, the program is slated to end on Dec. 31 of this year. As car technology has evolved and cleaner vehicles hit the road, Washington officials have been preparing for the expiration of the law establishing what had been mandatory testing in some of the most populous counties. Starting in 2020, vehicle owners will no longer be required to have their vehicle’s emissions tested before renewing their registration. Vehicles scheduled for testing in 2019 still need an emissions test before they can renew their tabs, according to the state Department of Ecology. “Air quality in Washington is much cleaner than when the program began in 1982, and every community in our state currently meets all federal air quality standards,” the state agency said.
Widening project targets Highway 14 congestion - January 30, 2019
A $25 million project aimed at reducing chronic congestion on state Highway 14 will add lanes to the highway between Interstate 205 and Southeast 164th Avenue, along with a westbound, peak-use shoulder lane for use during heavy traffic. The Washington State Department of Transportation’s plan, which is still in the design phase, would add another lane of travel going both directions, turning the four-lane highway into a six-lane highway between I-205 and 164th. The plan also includes adding a peak-use lane along the outermost shoulder of westbound Highway 14, creating a potential fourth lane between 164th Avenue and Interstate 205.
Lawmakers set to tackle transportation - January 28, 2019
With another legislative session underway in Olympia, lawmakers are poised to consider new transportation spending, traffic-enforcement measures and – once again – car-tab fees. Embattled anti-tax activist Tim Eyman collected enough signatures to qualify an initiative that would cap car-tab fees at $30 a year. Lawmakers must now either approve that measure, allow it to go to the ballot or pass an alternative to appear alongside Eyman’s measure on the ballot. Car tabs are a significant source of revenue for Sound Transit, which uses an inflated formula approved by the Legislature to determine the value of vehicles and how much drivers pay for car tabs. That formula has drawn attention in recent years after voters approved the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package in 2016 and some drivers felt sticker shock at their increased car-tab fees.
Working in Clark County: Marc Gross, Interstate 5 Bridge supervisor - January 28, 2019
One could think about the Interstate 5 Bridge as being sort of alive. An Oregon Department of Transportation crew of 10 works inside of the structure’s bridge house, an area not immediately noticeable to any of the estimated 131,000 average daily passers-by going northbound and southbound in the month of December. They man the fort, so to speak, for 12-hour shifts at a time, required to answer the call of a passing vessel within 30 seconds. If the ship needs extra clearance to get beneath the 102-year-old green giant, the crew member needs to raise the bridge’s lift span.
C-Tran to present option for second bus rapid transit line - January 26, 2019
After months of outreach and deliberation, C-Tran will begin introducing its preferred option for a second bus rapid transit line. The first presentation will take place at Monday’s Vancouver City Council meeting, where the council will get its initial look at a locally preferred option for the line running along Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard. The first Vine route opened in January 2017 and runs along East Fourth Plain Boulevard. Ridership continues to increase, only further encouraging C-Tran to seek a second line. The transit agency reported ridership increased more than 19 percent in 2018 with more than 1.3 million individual trips taken on the Vine. The recommendation from the Corridor Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee is to align the new route with East Evergreen Boulevard in downtown – connecting with the existing Turtle Place stop used by the Fourth Plain Vine – and with a new transit center near S.E. 192nd Ave. on the east side.
Inslee: Light rail is a must - January 10, 2019
Gov. Jay Inslee has a message for Southwest Washington: The replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge spanning the Columbia River will include light rail, or it won’t be built. Speaking at a preview of the 2019 legislative session, which begins Monday, Inslee said that light rail will be a feature of the replacement bridge because Oregon will pay for half of the project and has insisted that it be included. Inslee said the situation might be different if Washington was paying for the entire project. But, he said, it “takes two to tango.” “What I want to make clear, though, is that the Southwest Washington community needs to come together around a consensus,” said Inslee. “At the moment, unless Oregon changes its view, you’re going to have to put light rail on the bridge if you want a bridge.”
FHA says Oregon’s tolling plans ‘likely’ eligible for approval - January 10, 2019
The Federal Highway Administration has given Oregon what it needs to move into the next phase of implementing tolls on Interstates 5 and 205. The FHA sent the Oregon Department of Transportation a letter Jan. 8 that outlined the federal requirements to put tolls on interstate highways. “This is a major step that will help us keep moving forward in what will be a long process,” said Tammy Baney, chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, in a press release. “In this letter, the FHWA acknowledges the work completed in our feasibility analysis and points us toward the next steps we need to take to use tolling in Oregon to help us maintain a transportation system that will meet our growing needs.” The letter includes a response to three issues Oregon needs to address to move forward: eligibility under federal tolling programs; required analysis to receive needed classification under the National Environmental Policy Act; and an anticipated timeline and any opportunities to streamline project review.
Interstate 5 traffic causes freight travel fatigue - January 6, 2019
It’s 2:10 p.m. on a Monday and northbound traffic has slowed to a crawl near the Interstate 5 Bridge. Nearby, Steve Johnson is polishing off breakfast at the Cascade Grill in the Jubitz Travel Center. Johnson’s day started in Pierce County, delivering produce to the Costco Distribution Center in Sumner. After unloading his cargo, he headed south to the Jubitz mini-city at 10210 N. Vancouver Way in Portland. His leased Freightliner Cascadia tractor-trailer sits in the parking lot. Johnson’s been working as an independent, long-haul truck driver for a quarter-century. He agreed to an interview, between bites of breakfast, with the belief the focus would be exclusively on his evolving experience driving across the Interstate 5 Bridge. But Johnson soon steered the conversation to his opinions about truck-stop food, elephant ears, driver safety and blues festivals. The ever-increasing freight travel times over the Interstate 5 Bridge was among the arguments Columbia River Crossing proponents cited when arguing for a replacement span.
10th Avenue Bridge now open to drivers, cyclists, pedestrians - January 5, 2019
After over a year of construction, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can now use a new bridge spanning Whipple Creek outside of Ridgefield. Clark County Public works has opened the new 10th Avenue Bridge to traffic as of Thursday afternoon, according to a county press release. The 450-foot-long bridge stands about 48 feet above Whipple Creek and was undertaken to improve the flow of traffic by creating another north-south roadway in the area. It includes shoulders, bike lanes, sidewalks and stormwater runoff facilities. The project was also undertaken to accommodate anticipated development nearby and to relieve congestion associated with large events at the nearby Sunlight Supply Amphitheater or at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. Previously, many drivers had to use the 179th Street interchange from Interstate 5.
WSDOT launches study to improve travel near SR 500 and NE Fourth Plain Boulevard in Vancouver - January 3, 2019
It should come as no surprise to travelers who use the intersection of State Route 500 and Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard that it is one of the most congested highway intersections in Clark County. To address the current traffic problems, the Washington State Department of Transportation is studying the intersection with local partners to identify possible solutions to improve safety, mobility and travel reliability in the area. “This intersection has one of the highest rates of crashes, congestion and travel delays in the entire county,” said WSDOT Regional Planning Manager Michael Williams. “Feedback from people who use this corridor will help us identify the best possible solutions to improve travel for all users.” Members of the community are encouraged to participate in an online survey, during the month of January.
Herrera Beutler, state Republicans want ‘alternatives to light rail’ in bridge planning - December 19, 2018
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and seven Southwest Washington state lawmakers have written to Gov. Jay Inslee asking him to “keep mass transit alternatives to light rail on the table” as part of negotiations to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge across the Columbia River. The letter was prompted by news last week that Inslee included $17.5 million in his proposed budget for a project office to replace the I-5 Bridge. The budget item included language that light rail would be part of the project. He also made remarks to The Columbian that including the means of transit on the bridge would signal to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has insisted on light rail on a replacement crossing, that Washington would be a partner on the project. Inslee also said that the budget item would convey to the federal government that an actual project is in the works.
Ribbon cut on Northeast 10th Avenue bridge over Whipple Creek - December 18, 2018
Clark County staff, contractors, elected officials and community members gathered Tuesday south of Ridgefield to commemorate a new bridge over Whipple Creek, which will tie together Northeast 10th Avenue between Northeast 154th and 164th streets once it opens to traffic in the next few weeks. County Public Works Director Ahmad Qayoumi said the stretch has been part of the county’s list of arterial roads in need of support for some time, largely because there aren’t many north-south roadways in the area, especially around the Clark County Fairgrounds and the growing neighborhoods south of Ridgefield. For many drivers, the most convenient access was the 179th Street interchange from Interstate 5, he said. The 450-foot-long bridge stands about 48 feet above Whipple Creek, adding shoulders to Northeast 10th Avenue in places where there weren’t any, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and stormwater runoff facilities, according to the county, along with roadway improvements beyond the span.