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

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.
Fiscal Year 2020 Unified Planning Work Program Draft Available for Review
RTC is already looking ahead to Fiscal Year 2020 which begins July 1, 2019, and goes through June 30, 2020. As such, a proposed draft transportation planning work program for FY 2020 is now available for public review. The UPWP documents proposed transportation planning work activities. It is a core component of a coordinated transportation planning process required by federal and state governments. The RTC Board reviewed the draft document at its April 2 meeting and a final draft will be brought back to seek Board adoption at the Board’s May 7 meeting.
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.

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.

Legislature OKs bill to boost project to replace I-5 Bridge - April 11, 2019
While many of the details of a replacement Interstate 5 Bridge have yet to be worked out, Washington lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed a bill that’s intended to hasten the project’s development once an agreement is struck. On Wednesday, the Senate passed HB 1994, which would create a process to designate transportation projects as being of statewide significance and is squarely aimed at expediting the replacement of the bridge. The bill passed on a 41-5 vote with the support of Sens. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, and Ann Rivers, R-La Center. Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, was excused. According to a staff summary of the bill, an eligible project must “contain a bridge that connects two states, that has a reasonable construction cost estimate of at least $500 million.” Projects with this designation would need to meet criteria to relieve congestion, improve freight mobility, provide safety improvements and enhance regional economic development opportunities. Under the bill, the Washington State Department of Transportation would expedite the ’project’s completion and assemble a team of state, local and private officials to meet the project’s planning and permitting needs.
Oregon governor: Time to plan new Interstate 5 bridge is now - April 2, 2019
Gov. Kate Brown wants Oregon to accelerate plans to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge. Assuming Washington’s Legislature approves a $17.5 million request from Gov. Jay Inslee to open a new bistate office to lead design, engineering and public outreach for a new bridge, Brown said Oregon must be ready to act. If the money comes through, that joint office should be opened by the end of the year, Brown said. In a March 20 letter to the chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, Brown said the aging bridge spanning the Columbia River is “a seismic risk, a freight bottleneck, a barrier to effective public transportation and a source of some of the worst gridlock in the nation.” “Its current condition poses a threat to Oregon’s economic vitality,” Brown wrote to Tammy Baney, who leads the state’s top transportation decision-making body, “and is negatively impacting the livability of our state.”
Senate Democrats release two-year transportation budget - March 26, 2019
Democrats in the state Senate have released their two-year transportation budget, proposing $9.9 billion in spending on areas that broadly mirror a counterpart proposal in the state House. The budget, unveiled by the head of the Senate transportation committee Tuesday, includes money to begin electrifying the state’s ferry system, jump-start planning on a replacement for the Interstate 5 Bridge across the Columbia River, and make a start on a multibillion-dollar court order over salmon spawning barriers. Advancing the process to replace the century-old I-5 Bridge has been a priority of Clark County lawmakers and other community leaders for the current legislative session.
$500 million ODOT plan addresses Rose Quarter bottleneck issue - March 25, 2019
For years, Clark County critics of the failed Columbia River Crossing project complained that Oregon should work first to fix the bottleneck on Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter. Now Oregon Department of Transportation officials have a $500 million plan to do just that. But the project has drawn a lot of hostility from a variety of groups south of the river, ranging from bicyclists to the Portland Public Schools. That leaves Clark County with at least two things to think about: Will Oregon ever find the consensus to fix a stretch of freeway that vexes Clark County motorists? And what might that conflict mean for nascent attempts at a new Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project?
Officials: take senior transportation into account when developing - March 18, 2019
Changing the way local governments look at development and how they apply transit to their designs can help assure that Clark County residents will be able to age in place. That was the takeaway of a summit on transportation hosted at Clark College February 21. Spurred in part by a report from the Clark County Commission on Aging released early this year, the summit featured local agency leaders who spoke on what steps needed to be taken to facilitate aging in place. The event brought in about 80 individuals who participated during survey questions that interspersed the summit. The last question dealt with where local governments and agencies should focus their services to help individuals age in place. Most respondents selected community design and proximity to destinations, followed closely by universal mobility as a service.
C-Tran approves basic outline for new bus rapid transit line - March 15, 2019
C-Tran’s board earlier this week approved the basic outline for a bus rapid transit line along Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard from downtown Vancouver to just west of Southeast 192nd Avenue – an early step in the process that will allow the agency to start more detailed design work on the bus line, which could open by 2023. The line would travel along the Mill Plain corridor from a new transit center near 192nd Avenue to downtown Vancouver via East Evergreen Boulevard. It would be the city’s second bus rapid transit line, following The Vine, which travels along the East Fourth Plain Boulevard corridor. The “rapid” in bus rapid transit comes from added efficiency. For C-Tran, that means The Vine uses 60-foot buses as opposed to 40-foot buses. Passengers pay before boarding as opposed to when they step on, and the buses can jump in line at some intersections thanks to special traffic lights.
Interstate 5 tunnel: To be or not to be? - March 10, 2019
As predictable as traffic jams heading onto the Interstate 5 Bridge, state legislators are back in Olympia talking about Columbia River crossing options. And like other unchanging, interminable cycles, so returns talk of a tunnel solution to the river crossing problem. Why do we not burrow beneath the Columbia River to solve our metropolitan-area traffic woes, rather than build a bridge above? The tunnel option was explored, most recently, in the early days of the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing project. All indications are it was not a long conversation.
Senate panel OKs $450M for a new Interstate 5 Bridge - March 6, 2019
The state Senate Transportation Committee passed a $15 billion transportation package on Wednesday that includes $450 million for a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River. The project has been a priority for Clark County lawmakers, who have been seeking to restart the process with Oregon to replace the century-old bridge since 2017. The funding would come on top of the $17.5 million Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed for an office dedicated to the bridge-replacement project. “This is another concrete step toward getting this project moving while we work with Oregon to design a planning process and determine the details of a new bridge,” Sen. Annette Cleveland, a Vancouver Democrat who serves on the committee, said in a statement. “This is only a down payment on what a new bridge will cost, of course, but we anticipate funding from other avenues, including our federal and Oregon state partners once we agree on a mutual vision for the new bridge.”
Vancouver seeks more feedback on bike-lane project - March 5, 2019
The Vancouver City Council wants more feedback from residents, community groups and stakeholders before making a call postponing to next year a plan to add protected bike lanes, at the sake of parking spots, along Columbia Street. At its Monday night meeting, the council also asked for more specific information on what the city might be able to do to address the concerns of residents, many of whom were packed into the council chambers. The plan, the Westside Bike Mobility Project, would create three north-south, more bike-friendly corridors – one along Jefferson Street and Kauffman Avenue; Esther, Franklin and Daniels streets; and along Columbia Street – as part of a broader strategy to offer more transportation options for an urbanizing west Vancouver.
Clark Asks: How do highway reader boards calculate travel times? - March 5, 2019
Battle Ground’s Jen Kootstra, now retired, doesn’t make the commute south on the interstate highways in the county as much as she did when she was still working as an engineer for HP. Now, she makes trips south roughly weekly, heading to the 78th Street Heritage Farm, where she’s involved in the Master Gardener program, but she still wonders: How do traffic officials figure out travel time estimates on highway reader boards, such as the one north of Salmon Creek? Kootstra submitted her question through The Columbian’s Clark Asks website feature, where readers can suggest and vote on questions for further reporting.
Vancouver to rethink bike lanes-parking plan - February 25, 2019
After reviewing the city’s plans to build three north-south bicycling corridors in west Vancouver, adding protected bike lanes but removing some parking spots, the Vancouver City Council chose to re-examine options for balancing parking following an outcry from residents. The council chambers were, unusually, packed for the workshop, with residents concerned about the lack of parking options and what they called poor communication on the city’s part. Following the discussion, City Manager Eric Holmes said city staff would provide the council with other options for how it might pursue the first phase of the project, which would involve repaving and adding the protected lanes to Columbia Street between, roughly, Mill Plain to Fourth Plain boulevards.
Proposal for bike lanes raises concerns on Columbia Street - February 20, 2019
A proposal to remove parking from Columbia Street and install protected bike lanes is raising concerns at the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center, where staff worry that the plan will deter disabled veterans who count on convenient parking. The CCVAC isn’t the only group sounding the alarm. Some residents and business owners along the proposed bike lane routes have also expressed worry about how the proposal might squeeze an already-tight neighborhood parking situation. The cycling proposal, called the Westside Bike Mobility Project, would form protected bike lanes along three routes snaking from downtown to uptown Vancouver.
Westside Mobility Strategy has many moving parts - February 20, 2019
Planned bike lanes up and down Columbia Street are part of the city’s larger Westside Mobility Strategy, a larger-scale city initiative meant to accommodate more means of transportation while balancing business interests and livability. The broader strategy seeks to address traffic planning in much of town west of Interstate 5, and work to reconcile how the walker and horse rider planning of the older city gave way to the car-centric ethos of many American suburban areas, the city says. Planning priorities included improving freight mobility on Lower River Road to Mill Plain Boulevard and Interstate 5; extending 32nd Avenue to Fruit Valley Road; doing more to balance freight and passenger traffic through the heart of the city; and replacing multiple Interstate 5 interchanges.
Report: Rose Quarter project would reduce travel times - February 18, 2019
A proposed construction project along a problematic 1.7-mile stretch of Interstate 5 in the heart of Portland would dramatically reduce travel times, improve safety for bicycles and pedestrians through the area, and “slightly reduce” greenhouse gas emissions. That’s according to an assessment released Friday by the Portland and state transportation departments. The two governments released their Environmental Assessment, kickstarting a 45-day public comment period. The report is the most detailed analysis yet of the more than $500 million project to add wider shoulders, merging lanes and cover a section of I-5 through the Rose Quarter broadly between the I-405 and I-84 interchanges. The project includes a new pedestrian and bike bridge over the freeway and other street-level improvement the report says will make it safer for everyone to get around.