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

Human Services Transportation Plan Update Underway
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. Under current federal law, the HSTP must undergo periodic review. In 2018, the HSTP for Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties is in the process of being updated. For more information, and to provide your input, visit the 2018 HSTP Update web page.
WSDOT launches study to improve safety on SR-500
Traffic backups and delays are no surprise to people who use SR-500 between I-5 and I-205 in Vancouver. To improve safety and travel times on SR-500, the Washington State Department of Transportation is gathering public input as part of a study that will develop improvements to benefit all users of the highway. There are a high rate of collisions near the traffic signals at NE Falk Road/42nd Avenue and NE Stapleton Road/54th Avenue, especially during busy travel times. “With more traffic on SR-500 than ever before, we’re seeing more crashes,” said Carley Francis, WSDOT Regional Planning Director. “We need input from people who use the road to help us make the right investment at the right place.”
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.
2017 Annual Report
In 2017, RTC celebrated 25 years of regional transportation collaboration across Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties. Over the course of the past 25 years, RTC has awarded nearly $233 million in federal transportation grants to help plan and build needed transportation projects in our community. In addition to distributing grant funds, RTC has led several major planning studies, which have resulted in regional consensus in and investments to serve the region’s rapid growth. Going forward, our region faces many more needs and will find many more growth opportunities. As a collection of agencies committed to community progress and investment, we continue to plan for the future to see what projects need to be done, then work collectively to put those ideas into action.
Using Technology to Improve Traffic Operations
The Vancouver Area Smart Trek program, led by RTC, is a partnership of transportation agencies in the Clark County region that work to improve transportation system performance by collaborating on signal systems, freeway and arterial management, traveler information, and transit signal priority projects through the use of smart technology and the system infrastructure needed to support it.
Buses Saving Time on SR-14
C-TRAN’s bus on shoulder demonstration project is now in operation. It lets commuter buses bypass congestion on SR-14 by using the freeway shoulder when mainline traffic is slow. RTC, in partnership with C-TRAN and WSDOT, evaluated shoulder running bus operations as part of the Bus on Shoulder Feasibility Study. Study recommendations included a Pilot Project on SR-14 between I-205 and 164th. C-TRAN and WSDOT developed agreements and operating rules and implemented the 18 month demonstration project on October 23, 2017. C-TRAN has produced an informative video about the project that shows a bus using the shoulder.
RTC Awards $9.4 million to Fund Critical Transportation Projects
On October 3, the RTC Board of Directors selected 11 projects to receive approximately $9.4 million in regionally allocated federal transportation funds. Projects will be programmed in year 2021, and include funding for arterial improvements along Hwy. 99, SE 1st St., Eaton Blvd., and NE 99th St. Funding will also be used for traffic signal and technology improvement along I-205, 134th Street, and throughout the Clark County traffic signal system. C-TRAN will receive funding for electric buses.
In addition to selecting grants, the RTC Board approved the 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program, which indicates a funding commitment for approximately $216 million in regional transportation improvements over the next four years within the Clark County region.
Washington Road Usage Charge Pilot Project
Help Washington explore a potential new way to pay for roads and bridges. Sign up to test a road usage charge where drivers will simulate paying for the miles they drive rather than the gallons of gas they buy.
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.

Tina Kotek: Oregon and Washington lawmakers should meet to talk Interstate Bridge - September 21, 2018
House Speaker Tina Kotek wants to sit down with Washington lawmakers before the end of the year with a simple goal: Talk about meeting again sometime in 2019 to discuss replacing the Interstate Bridge. “I know that might seem like a low bar,” Kotek said about talking about talking, “but that will get us started.” The Portland Democrat spoke Wednesday at a transportation forum in North Portland, saying she welcomes a renewed commitment from Washington legislators who appear ready to start talking about replacing the Interstate 5 bridge connecting the two states.
Oregon House Speaker spurs talks on Interstate Bridge - September 21, 2018
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek wants to sit down with Washington lawmakers before the end of the year to further discussions about replacing the Interstate Bridge, a newspaper reported Friday. The Portland Democrat said at a transportation forum this week that she welcomes a renewed commitment from Washington legislators who appear ready to start talking about replacing the Interstate 5 bridge connecting the two states, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The Interstate Bridge has been a sticking point between the neighboring states for years. In 2013, Washington declined to pay for its share of the controversial Columbia River Crossing Project, but lawmakers there recently supported a study to investigate what pieces of the failed project were still salvageable. Kotek is the latest Oregon lawmaker to say she’s ready to work with Washington again on the proposal.
Clark County Council calls for replacing I-5 Bridge - September 18, 2018
With some reluctance, the Clark County Council became the latest local government to approve a resolution calling for the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge. The council now joins the city of Vancouver and local ports in voicing support for the replacing the bridge and calling on state officials to provide funding for the project. Last year, Washington lawmakers attempted to restart talks with their Oregon counterparts about replacing the bridge, which is considered outdated. The resolution passed by the council notes the Interstate 5 corridor’s “national significance” and importance to commerce. Calling the bridge “functionally obsolete,” it states that the segment of I-5 between Vancouver and Portland experiences some of the worst congestion along the entire length of the corridor and sees frequent crashes. The resolution specifically calls for a lane for bus-rapid transit and improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
Council divided over I-5 Bridge resolution - September 14, 2018
The demise of the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project undoubtedly set the future of a new Interstate Bridge on I-5 back several years, at least. In the five years since that project stalled out, costing taxpayers more than $170 million, traffic congestion has grown steadily worse, especially for the thousands who call Clark County home but work in Oregon. Now efforts are underway, on the Washington side of the Columbia River anyway, to revive the conversation over what to do with the 100-year-old I-5 Bridge. Recently, Vancouver City Council members approved a resolution stating their support for a new bridge project. In that statement, mass transit would be a key component of any bridge, including the possible extension of Light Rail into Clark County. At their council time meeting last week, the Clark County councilors debated their own version of that resolution, but struggled to find consensus on the language around mass transit, as well as whether tolls should be used to help fund a bridge replacement.
Port of Vancouver approves resolution calling for I-5 Bridge replacement - September 12, 2018
The Port of Vancouver approved a resolution supporting the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge on Tuesday. The resolution calls for Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Legislature to ”provide adequate funding to the Washington State Department of Transportation to materially advance project development“ for a replacement bridge. The resolution was approved 2-1. Commissioners Eric LaBrant and Don Orange voted yes. Commissioner Jerry Oliver voted no. Oliver cited the resolution’s statement of support of a “high-capacity transit with a dedicated guideway,” which he worried leaves open the possibility of light rail, as reason for voting against it.
Summit sounds alarm on I-5 Bridge, traffic congestion - August 28, 2018
More frequent crashes, more people waiting in longer and longer traffic jams and lost business productivity are just some of the many troubles associated with traveling the Interstate 5 Bridge today, and it won’t get any better unless a new crossing is built. That was the message at the Business Leaders Regional Transportation Summit, a symposium primarily focused on the transportation hindrances associated with the antiquated bridge, and getting across the message to political leaders that change is possible. “We want to shrink the size of the river and erase the state line,” Ron Arp, president of Identity Clark County, said before the beginning of the event, arguing that there was a clear business and government case to be made about why the bridge should be replaced. What that replacement would look like, however, was not the subject of the meeting. “This is about identifying a problem and heading toward a solution,” Arp said.
State to remove Highway 500 signals - August 14, 2018
The Washington State Department of Transportation is moving forward with a plan to remove the traffic signals from Highway 500, replacing the intersections on Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road with right in/right out interchanges. WSDOT broached the topic earlier this month, but formally announced the plan on Monday, said Regional Planning Director Carley Francis. The project’s aim is to reduce collisions at the two intersections, especially rear-endings — currently a major problem in an area where “folks anticipate a free-flow design corridor,” Francis said. The new traffic layout is expected to reduce crashes in the area by 70 percent.
Coming soon! Safety improvements to change how you travel SR 500 in Vancouver - August 13, 2018
In response to input from thousands of people during a safety study conducted earlier this year, the Washington State Department of Transportation has selected a Right In, Right Out design to improve safety on State Route 500 at Northeast Falk Road/Northeast 42nd Avenue and Northeast Stapleton Road/Northeast 54th Avenue in Vancouver. In collaboration with the City of Vancouver, Clark County, C-TRAN and the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the design was chosen because it balances significant safety improvements to SR 500, while maintaining some connectivity to SR 500 from local streets. “With nearly 400 crashes occurring on SR 500 near these intersections over five years, we believe it’s our responsibility to do something to improve safety,” said Carley Francis, WSDOT Southwest Region Planning Director. “These improvements are relatively low cost, can be implemented rather quickly, and will significantly improve safety on SR 500.”
Vancouver council resolution supports bridge replacement - August 7, 2018
The Vancouver City Council easily passed a unanimous resolution supporting a replacement for the Interstate 5 Bridge, urging Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature to put funds into a new crossing. “This is a significant night for us all, as we have waited for quite some time to move this bridge project forward, and the stars seem to be lining up,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said before making the motion to pass the resolution during Monday”s council meeting. “Our community has asked for help, our businesses have asked for help. … We’ve had a number of different issues with this … but we are a bistate regional system for economics and transportation.” McEnerny-Ogle told the council it was “appropriate” for the city to take the first step and urge neighboring cities and local ports to pass similar resolutions to show the governor and the Legislature that “Southwest Washington is indeed supportive of a replacement bridge.”
I-5 Bridge ‘tough topic’ in transportation plan - August 5, 2018
The thorny subject of replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, Southwest Washington’s most divisive piece of infrastructure, has not escaped the attention of the state’s long-term transportation planners. The bridge is the first issue discussed in the “Tough Topics” section of the draft Washington Transportation Plan — 2040 and Beyond, a long-term transportation plan created by the Washington State Transportation Commission. “Replacing this vital economic link with new infrastructure is daunting in terms of scope, coordination, environmental mitigation and cost, but those challenges pale next to the issues we face if this connection is severed,” the document states. The planning document takes a high-level view of the entire state’s transportation future and, from a policy perspective, six statutorily-mandated transportation goals promoting economic vitality, mobility, safety, preservation, environmental health and stewardship. It is part of a regular update to the Commission’s 2035 plan, which was adopted in 2015.
WSDOT has a plan for state Highway 500 - August 2, 2018
The Washington State Department of Transportation has a proposed solution to make two crash-prone intersections on state Highway 500 safer and more efficient for drivers — possibly within a few months — but once the work is over, some pedestrians will likely have to wait for years before they can walk across the highway again. The agency is proposing turning the intersections of Highway 500 and Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road into right in/right out interchanges. The traffic lights would be removed and the highway reconfigured. A median barrier would be built through the intersections, and the merge lanes would be reconfigured to give drivers more time to enter the highway and enforce the right-off turn. Taking a “left turn” from either intersection would require turning right on Highway 500 then making a U-turn at either Northeast St. Johns Road or Northeast Andresen Road. WSDOT is looking at beginning the reconfiguration process this fall before the rain begins, but that is still far from certain.
Port, pols celebrate West Vancouver Freight Access project - July 31, 2018
Port of Vancouver administrators, along with political and industry leaders, stood atop a small stage in a largely vacant marine terminal Tuesday morning to celebrate the completion of the $251 million West Vancouver Freight Access project. “We are building transportation infrastructure in this part of the state because this part of the state is integral to the economic growth of the entire state,” Gov. Jay Inslee told the crowd. “This project is as important to the economic development of Bellingham and Spokane as it is Vancouver.” Throughout the celebration, workers rushed newly imported Subarus into an awaiting freight train in the background and heavy equipment and engines groaned in the distance. “It really underscores what we do here and why we’re here today,” said port Commissioner Eric LaBrant.
Construction on Northeast 119th Street ‘one bite at a time’ - July 30, 2018
Whenever Robin Washington, a project manager with Clark County Public Works, is asked why the improvements on Northeast 119th Street are taking so long to build, she likens it to another large undertaking. “I ask people, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’” she said. “One bite at a time.” Now the county is finishing one bite and is starting on another as it continues its multiyear project to upgrade Northeast 119th Street from a two-lane country road with no sidewalks or bicycle lanes to an arterial intended to accommodate growing suburbanization.
Commuters consider cost, implications of tolls - July 25, 2018
At 3:20 a.m. every Monday through Thursday, Mike Coffman departs from his Vancouver home for his 4 a.m. shift at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland. He used to work at 6 a.m., but by then the traffic was prohibitive, he said — Coffman much prefers knowing that he can make it in 40 minutes, even tucked within the convoy of overnight freight haulers. A locksmith and carpenter coordinator at the hospital for more than 30 years, Coffman is one of the estimated 70,000 Clark County residents who commute to work in Oregon, and who count on the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 bridges to make it into work.