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

2019 Annual Report on RTC’s Operations and Technology Program
The program known as Vancouver Area Smart Trek (VAST) is a partnership of transportation agencies in the Clark County region established to improve transportation system operations and performance through the use of smart technology and the system and communications infrastructure needed to support it. The VAST agencies, made up of WSDOT, Clark County, City of Vancouver, C-TRAN, and RTC collaborate on signal systems, freeway and arterial management, traveler information, and transit signal priority projects. Investments on operational and technology projects have been a small, but effective part of the overall transportation funding program. The annual report summarizes key 2019 accomplishments and recurring, recent and upcoming activities of the program.
Board Awards $14.2 million to Fund Critical Projects
On October 1, the RTC Board selected 15 projects to receive approximately $14.2 million in regionally allocated federal transportation funds. Projects will be programmed over the next four years, and include funding of transportation improvements in Cities of Vancouver, Camas, Battle Ground, and unincorporated Clark County. Funding will also be used for signal coordination, planning, and ramp meters. In addition to selecting grants, the RTC Board approved the 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program, which indicates a funding commitment for approximately $343.8 million in regional transportation investments over the next four years within the Clark County region.
RTC’s Investment in Main Ave Pathway Taking Shape
In 2015, RTC awarded $148,000 in federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) to Clark County to help fund the Ridgefield Main Avenue Pathway connector project from downtown Ridgefield to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. These funds were combined with other local and federal funds to create a significant access and safety improvement project that is taking shape in the summer of 2019. When complete the improvement project will create a separated multi-use pathway and upgraded fish passages along Main Avenue, fostering much needed safety and access improvement into the Wildlife Refuge.
Board Selects Bike and Pedestrian Projects for Funding
On July 2, the RTC Board of Directors selected three bike and pedestrian projects within Clark and Skamania Counties to receive approximately $2.35 million in federal Transportation Alternatives funding. All were community based projects that expand travel choices, improve the travel experience, and enhance mobility and safety. The projects are along 1st Street in Stevenson, and NE 68th Street and Hazel Dell Avenue in Clark County.
Clark County RTP: 2019 Update Adopted
The RTC Board of Directors adopted a 2019 update to the Regional Transportation Plan for Clark County at its March 5 meeting. The RTP is the long-range, twenty-plus year, transportation plan required by federal and state governments as a pre-condition for receipt of federal and state transportation funding to this region. Adoption of the 2019 Plan concluded an almost two-year process during which Plan elements, such as regional transportation policies, demographic projections, and transportation projects and strategies, were reviewed and updated.
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.

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.

Estimated price tag for Rose Quarter project increases by 60 percent - January 14, 2020
New estimates peg the cost to add auxiliary lanes on Interstate 5 near Portland’s Rose Quarter and build other improvements at $715 million to $795 million. That’s nearly a 60 percent increase over previous estimates of $450 million to $500 million. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, inflation accounts for nearly half of the cost increases. Initial estimates were based on 2017 dollars. New estimates have been adjusted to reflect 2025 dollars, the assumed midpoint of construction. Other factors driving up costs are better estimates for right-of-way acquisition, preliminary engineering and actual construction.
Oregon creates office for congestion, megaprojects, tolling - January 8, 2020
The Oregon Department of Transportation is pumping up its congestion relief program by creating an office to direct megaprojects and tolling. The Office of Urban Mobility and Mega Project Delivery, which was announced Tuesday, will have implications for Clark County drivers. Thousands of residents commute to Oregon jobs and endure almost daily traffic jams on and near the two freeway bridges over the Columbia River and the section of Interstate 5 near the Rose Quarter. The office will focus on delivering congestion solutions, as the Oregon Legislature directed in its 2017 transportation bill.
Contractor to work on traffic signals at 10 locations - December 23, 2019
Drivers in the urban unincorporated portion of Clark County can expect intermittent single-lane closures and delays as work begins to upgrade traffic signals. Starting in 2020, Clark County Public Works’ contractor, Mill Plain Electric, will improve existing traffic signal systems, upgrade and relocate existing school zone flashing lights, and repair damaged signal systems and fiber optic lines.
Resilient finance plan sought for Interstate 5 Bridge effort - December 23, 2019
The Columbia River Crossing project melted down in 2013 when the Washington Senate failed to provide $450 million in construction dollars. A second effort to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge will try to avoid the same outcome by crafting a finance plan that would allow different components to be built in phases. Travis Brouwer, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s assistant director for revenue, finance and compliance, told a bistate meeting of Washington and Oregon legislators Friday in Vancouver that the Columbia River Crossing suffered from what he called “a single point of failure.” It didn’t matter that the federal government gave the project a green light for construction, the Federal Transit Administration was ready to kick in $850 million to extend light rail to Clark College, or the Oregon Legislature had approved $450 million for construction. When the Washington Senate balked at matching Oregon’s contribution, a single setback caused the project to unravel, after years of work and nearly $200 million spent.
In Our View: Prepare for slow phase-in of road usage fee - December 23, 2019
Seven years after the Legislature instructed state officials to consider alternatives to the gas tax, Washington has taken only incremental steps in that direction. Recommendations from the Washington State Transportation Commission, approved last week to be sent to lawmakers, indicate that progress will remain slow. As the state considers the impact of various options for replacing the gas tax, questions and concerns remain impenetrable. The lesson? Washington should prepare for a slow phase-in as it transforms how it funds road construction and maintenance, even if the issue seems urgent.
WSDOT: Drivers should not block new roundabout in Washougal - December 22, 2019
Drivers eastbound on state Highway 14 in Washougal will see a new electronic sign telling them not to stop in the roundabout at 32nd Street. The sign, which provides a simple “Do not block circle” message, automatically turns on when a train is blocking 32nd Street north of the roundabout and vehicles are stacking up on 32nd Street. When the sign is on, drivers eastbound on Highway 14 wanting to turn north onto 32nd Street should wait in the left lane before the roundabout. The lane was designed to hold traffic so it will not block other vehicles from using the roundabout.
Brunell: Bridges shouldn’t have to sink to be replaced - December 17, 2019
Bridges shouldn’t have to sink to be replaced. However, at times that’s what it takes. Too often new projects succumb to years of fighting among interest groups and endless political bickering. In 2013, opposition killed the Columbia River Crossing, which was formed to construct a replacement I-5 bridge across the Columbia River connecting Vancouver and Portland. We all want more roads and bridges as long as they are in the other person’s neighborhood and someone else pays. But that attitude is not realistic as our population expands and more demands are put on our transportation system.
Washington closer to per-mile road usage charge - December 17, 2019
Washington is one step closer to replacing the state gas tax with a new system where drivers are charged on a per-mile basis. The Washington State Transportation Commission, meeting Tuesday in Olympia, voted to forward 16 recommendations for a road usage charge to the Washington Legislature, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Federal Highway Administration. Washington and other states face a funding problem with more electric cars, hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles generating less gas tax revenue. The gas tax does not automatically keep pace with inflation or rise and fall with changes in gas prices. Forecasts predict that vehicle fuel efficiency in Washington will reach 35 miles per gallon by 2035, creating a potential 45 percent reduction in gas tax revenue.
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge opens new bridge - December 9, 2019
It’s been nearly 60 years since the Sevier family last used a hand-pulled ferry to move hay and equipment to their cattle on the other side of Lake River. That taxing chore went away in 1960 when the family built a modest $40,000 wood bridge, wide enough for a single vehicle. The bridge linked different parts of the family’s land, five years before the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established. Several members of the Sevier family were on hand Monday to witness the opening of a two-lane concrete bridge over Lake River. The $8 million project will improve access for 130,000 visitors a year who take the auto tour through the refuge’s River S Unit.
Southwest Regional Transportation Council endorses I-5 Bridge replacement - December 3, 2019
Efforts to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge continued to pick up steam Tuesday as the Southwest Regional Transportation Council supported a statement listing the project as “Action #1.” The RTC’s board of directors voted to endorse the Clark County Transportation Alliance’s 2020 Policy Statement that backs other projects to ease Interstate 5 congestion, such as improving traffic flow near the Rose Quarter and the I-5/Interstate 84 interchange in Portland. The policy statement also supports accelerating state funding for interchange improvements at I-5 and 179th Street. Last month, the Clark County Council removed a de facto moratorium and opened the door for building more than 1,500 single-family houses, apartments and townhomes in the area.