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

Draft Public Participation Plan – Public Comments Sought
RTC’s Draft Public Participation Plan, 2020 update, is available for public comment. The Public comment period is open through November 30, 2020. The Public Participation Plan relates to the Council’s work on regional transportation planning and programming of regionally significant transportation projects. The Public Participation Plan includes information on RTC’s organization and the transportation Plans and Programs RTC publishes. RTC is eager to hear from the public how RTC can most effectively communicate with them and gain their feedback on regional transportation plans and projects.
RTC Board Awards $12.1 million to Fund Critical Transportation Projects
On October 6th, the RTC Board selected 15 projects to receive approximately $12.1 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, La Center, and unincorporated Clark County. Funding will also be used for transit, signal coordination, planning, and ramp meters. In addition to selecting grants, the RTC Board approved the 2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Program, which indicates a funding commitment for approximately $422 million in transportation investments over the next four years within the Clark County region.
Improving Reliability and Safety on Clark County Freeways
The Urban Freeway Corridor Operations Study analyzed near term operational and system management improvements that could serve to make the transportation system operate more efficiently and predictably. The strategies include approaches to get the most out of the existing system with low cost capital improvements and technology-based traffic management tools to optimize the flow of traffic and maximize available capacity. RTC led the study in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation, Clark County, the City of Vancouver and C-TRAN. The Study is now complete and consists of a tiered set of strategy recommendations with detailed information sheets on the relative benefits to operations, safety and cost for each strategy.
2019 Monitoring Report Indicates Continued Congestion
The 2019 Congestion Monitoring Report indicates that the pace of regional growth slowed in 2019, with continued congestion at key corridors and intersections. The region did experience a continuation of the 5-year trend of modest degradation of evening roadway speed performance. The major hot spot continues to be access to the I-5 and I-205 Columbia River bridges during peak hours. The region will move forward in 2020 with I-5 southbound active traffic management and bus on shoulder improvements to address congestion and safety in this critical corridor.
Agency Response to COVID-19 OutbreakStay Home. Limit Travel. Save Lives.
COVID-19 is having a serious impact on our community and around the world. In accordance with Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-28, and out of concern for the health and safety of our staff, our colleagues, and the public we serve, RTC will follow the public meeting guidelines established to minimize spread of the novel coronavirus. Until further notice, meetings deemed essential will be held virtually, with a minimum of on-site personnel present. Public access will be provided online. Please contact your meeting organizer to confirm plans for meetings you’d planned to attend.
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.

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.

I-5 Bridge panel reviews mass transit, alternative crossings options - October 1, 2020
There are two topics that tend to be the most contentious in any discussion about replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge: high-capacity transit and alternative crossing options. The mass transit issue in particular is often cited as one of the factors behind a legislative deadlock that derailed the Columbia River Crossing replacement project in 2013. Washington and Oregon embarked on a new replacement effort last year, and the bistate legislative committee tasked with overseeing the new Interstate Bridge Replacement Program tackled both issues head-on at a virtual meeting Thursday afternoon.
Pedestrian safety upgrades continue along Northeast 112th Avenue - September 28, 2020
A new sidewalk installed along Northeast 112th Avenue in east Vancouver marks the latest step in improving safety along a notoriously dangerous road for pedestrians. However, there’s still more work to be done, said Loretta Callahan, spokesperson for the Vancouver Public Works Department. The new sidewalk along the east side of the north-south arterial stretches from Southeast Chkalov Drive to Northeast Ninth Street. Construction on the sidewalk wrapped up over the summer, on-schedule despite COVID-19 delaying other projects around the city, Callahan said. In all, the infrastructure upgrade cost just under $270,000. “It was a grant-funded project to improve pedestrian safety,” Callahan said.
I-5 Bridge repair project productive - September 28, 2020
The Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion replacement project wrapped up ahead of schedule last week – or at least the part of the project that required the closure of the northbound span of the bridge. Crews reopened the span late Friday night, two days sooner than planned. The northbound span closed to all traffic starting Sept. 19 so crews could replace a cracked trunnion and other components of the lift system at the top of the span’s south tower. Both freeway directions shared the southbound span last week, with the middle lane functioning as a reversible rush-hour lane. The bridge isn’t quite back to full capacity yet. The reopening of the northbound span coincided with the start of a planned weeklong closure of the left lane of the southbound span to give crews room to reconnect the freeway median barrier and perform other wrap-up work from the trunnion project.
Clark County drivers see wet conditions, moderate traffic in final I-5 Bridge repair commute - September 25, 2020
Clark County drivers are seeing wet conditions but limited delays in what is expected to be the last day of their week of trunnion project commutes. Traffic monitors at 6:15 a.m. showed moderate traffic but no significant slowing on southbound Interstate 5 through Vancouver, where traffic must merge down to two lanes to pass over the Interstate 5 Bridge. Northbound Interstate 5 also was experiencing moderate traffic but no significant slowing as drivers merged down to one lane to pass over the bridge. No delays were seen on Interstate 205 in Vancouver.
Repair of I-5 Bridge nears end minus any calamity - September 24, 2020
The work week at the core of the nine-day closure of the Interstate 5 Bridge is coming to an end, and Vancouver commuters appear to have dodged the worst of the predicted traffic apocalypse, apart from a few bumps throughout the week. The northbound span of the twin bridges has been closed to all traffic since Saturday while crews replace a cracked trunnion and other lift system components on the bridge’s south tower. Both freeway directions are sharing the three-lane southbound span in the interim. The crossing is a notorious traffic bottleneck to begin with, and officials at the Oregon and Washington departments of transportation spent several months warning Clark County and Portland residents that the 50 percent reduction in capacity would lead to 4-mile-long backups unless commuters planned ahead by working from home or changing their schedules.
Swap-out part of I-5 Bridge work mostly done - September 23, 2020
Wednesday marked the halfway point in the nine-day Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion replacement project, and Oregon Department of Transportation officials say the work is on track to wrap up on Sunday as scheduled. The primary goal of the project is to replace a cracked trunnion at the top of the northbound bridge’s south tower. The trunnions are the axles for the sheaves — a pair of 20-foot-diameter pulley wheels at the top of each tower that move the cables that connect the lift span to the counterweights.
Zipper machine moves barriers, transfers Interstate 5 Bridge traffic amid project - September 22, 2020
The logo on the side of the machine says Road Zipper. Press releases from the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation have at various times referred to it as a zipper barrier machine or zipper barrier truck, and one tweet from C-Tran affectionately dubbed it “Zippersaurus.” Whatever it’s called, the big orange contraption has been one of the most visible parts of the ongoing Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion replacement project, making twice-daily processions along the bridge to realign the barrier between northbound and southbound traffic like some kind of stately freeway Zamboni. Zipper machines are a common sight for motorists in cities where moveable barriers have become a permanent part of daily traffic management, such as on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, but they’re rare in Portland and Vancouver. Many local motorists probably last saw one during a previous I-5 Bridge repair project in 1997.
Crash closes southbound I-5 in Vancouver on first work day of bridge project - September 21, 2020
A crash in the single southbound lane of Interstate 5 has stopped traffic on the bridge, according to transportation officials. The backup already stretches north of 39th Street into Minnehaha and is causing issues on arterial streets in downtown. North and southbound traffic are sharing the southbound span of the bridge during repairs to the northbound span’s trunnion. The reduces the southbound traffic to two lanes in the morning and one lane in the evening. The crash occurred after crews shifted the median barrier to allow two lanes of traffic to flow north and one lane to flow south. With only one lane, the crash has effectively closed the southbound freeway lanes until it can be cleared.
Drivers urged to pack patience for Monday commute amid I-5 Bridge project - September 20, 2020
For drivers about to take part in the first workday commute since Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project began, transportation officials have two tips. Plan ahead. Be patient. Sunday saw backups up to four miles on I-5 and heavier-than-usual traffic on I-205. What will Monday’s commute will bring? Nobody is quite sure.
Day 1 of I-5 Bridge trunnion replacement project mostly on track - September 19, 2020
The Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project was largely on track on its first day Saturday, save for some temporary delays. Crews worked to close all lanes of the northbound span during the first day of the project, which is expected to last nine days. The gradual closure began early Saturday morning and had finished by the afternoon.
Get ready because the bridge closure begins tonight! - September 18, 2020
There are a lot of moving parts in this process and not all of them are in the bridge. When the closure of the northbound span of the Interstate Bridge begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, a series of steps will have already taken place that will help ease the northbound Interstate 5 traffic onto the southbound span. The shift will be gradual. Starting at 8 p.m. Friday, two lanes of each direction of I-5 will close. This will leave just one northbound lane open on the northbound span until the span closes down for the duration of the nine-day project. The lanes will be clearly marked and the speed limit will decrease to a comfortable 40 mph. It will take crews time to put the zipper barrier in place. Once it’s in place, all traffic will share the three lanes of the southbound span, with 6,400 feet of concrete zipper barrier between the directions of travel.
Closing time: I-5 Bridge trunnion repair project begins Saturday - September 18, 2020
Barring any more last-minute delays, the big Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project is set to begin Saturday, kicking off the scheduled nine-day closure of the northbound span of the twin bridges and use of the southbound span for all freeway traffic. The closure was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 12, but the Oregon Department of Transportation announced on Sept. 10 that it would delay the project to ensure Portland region’s freeway system kept running smoothly amid widespread wildfire evacuations in Oregon. The following day, ODOT announced the new Saturday start date. The wildfires threw a wrench into the proceedings, but there were no other last-minute hiccups during preparations for the project itself.
Closure of the northbound Interstate Bridge span begins Saturday - September 17, 2020
The nine-day closure of the northbound span of the I-5 Interstate Bridge is set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The closure will bring with it the possibility of nine days of major congestion throughout the Portland and Vancouver area. Travelers should be prepared. Consider delaying or shifting trips, taking transit, or working from home or another location if possible. Make a plan and not only will you help your own commute but maybe help reduce congestion for everyone else as well.
I-5 Bridge trunnion project delayed by one week - September 11, 2020
The Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion replacement project – and the accompanying nine-day closure of the northbound span of the twin bridges – is now scheduled to begin Sept. 19, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced Friday. The news comes one day after the agency announced a last-minute delay of the project, which had previously been scheduled to begin Sept. 12. The pieces were all in place; the replacement components were waiting on a barge, the falsework was built and the crane and other equipment stood at the ready. After two years of planning and outreach, the project was all set to begin this morning. Then came the wildfires.
I-5 Interstate Bridge project will now begin Saturday Sept. 19 - September 11, 2020
ODOT has rescheduled the start of the I-5 Interstate Bridge Trunnion Replacement Project for Sept. 19 following its postponement because of wildfires. The northbound span had been set to close at 12:01 a.m. Saturday to replace major components of the lift mechanism on the 1917 span. The project will keep the northbound structure closed for nine days. On Thursday evening, ODOT postponed the work to help keep the roads as clear as possible for wildfire evacuees and emergency responders.
Oregon wildfires put massive Interstate 5 Bridge repair project on hold - September 10, 2020
A massive project to rebuild a portion of the Interstate 5 Bridge was put on hold Thursday out of concerns that evacuees from Oregon wildfires would overwhelm the region’s freeway system. The postponement was announced late Thursday by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The closure of the northbound span of the Interstate 5 Bridge had been scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and last for nine days. The project would replace parts in the lift mechanism in the south tower of the 103-year-old northbound span. The project has been in the works for more than two years, timed to coincide with lower traffic levels and river flows in the Columbia River. A new date for the project has not been determined.
ODOT postpones Interstate Bridge closure - September 10, 2020
ODOT has postponed the I-5 Interstate Bridge Trunnion Replacement Project to keep the highway system as clear as possible for wildfire evacuees. ODOT and WSDOT will be reaching out to contractors and the U.S. Coast Guard to discuss the new schedule. The closure of the northbound span of the Interstate Bridge had been scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and last for nine days. The project would replace parts in the lift mechanism in south tower of the 103-year-old northbound span. “ODOT and our many partners have put a lot of work into this project over the last few years and it absolutely needs to get done,” said Rian Windsheimer, ODOT manager for the Portland area. “But this closure would have created additional congestion and right now we need to keep the highways moving for evacuees and emergency responders.”
I-5 Interstate Bridge closure begins Saturday - September 10, 2020
At first it was years away, then months and weeks and days away and now the Sept. 12-20 closure of the northbound span of the Interstate Bridge is just hours away. The closure begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and with it comes the possibility of nine days of major congestion throughout the Portland and Vancouver area. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to plan an alternative to using the Interstate Bridge: maybe work from home, travel at off times, use mass transit or use an alternate route. But remember, the Interstate 205 Glenn Jackson Bridge can’t easily absorb all the rerouting traffic.
Congestion management in store for travelers on southbound I-5 in Vancouver - September 8, 2020
New high-tech travel tools on Interstate 5 will debut this week to help improve trip reliability through Vancouver for years to come. Beginning on Thursday, Sept. 3, new ramp meters at Northeast 78th Street, Main Street, State Route 500/39th Street, Fourth Plain Boulevard, Mill Plain Boulevard and at SR 14/Washington Street in downtown will activate in response to real-time conditions to help reduce traffic backups and delays along the corridor. “During peak travel times this stretch of highway sees consistent congestion and a significant number of crashes,” said Mike Briggs, WSDOT engineer. “The solution is not always adding more lanes or infrastructure at a high cost, but rather enhancing what we have in a smarter, safer and more efficient way. Installing ramp meters and smart technology tools is a cost-effective strategy that helps reduce congestion and improves safety.”
Looking back at 1997 Interstate 5 Bridge repair as upcoming project looms - September 8, 2020
Boats transported parcels from one side of the river to the other. A fatal crash snarled traffic for hours. A contractor’s speedy repair job finished the project in a third of the expected time. September 1997 was the last time all the northbound lanes of the Interstate 5 Bridge shut down for a repair of this magnitude. While it’s happening again starting Saturday, one can only hope that the repairs will go as quickly. It was a time with less commuter traffic: More than 50,000 commuters used the bridge in 1997, compared with roughly 72,000 today. In 1997, the project was expected to last up to three weeks, but a speedy repair crew finished it – much to commuters’ delight – in just six days.
Interstate Bridge closure: Plan for life without the span - September 6, 2020
If anyone out there doesn’t yet know about the upcoming nine-day closure of the northbound Interstate 5 Bridge, consider this your official warning. In six days, the northbound span of the twin drawbridges will close to all traffic while crews undertake a $13 million maintenance project to replace parts of its century-old lift system. All freeway traffic will use the southbound span from Sept. 12 to 20. Halving the capacity of one of the Portland region’s only two Columbia River crossing points has the potential to create some spectacularly unpleasant traffic congestion
New I-5 ramp meters go live in Vancouver - September 3, 2020
The Washington State Department of Transportation has spent the past few months installing a series of upgrades to its traffic management system along Interstate 5 through Vancouver. Some of the new technology is scheduled to go live starting today. The agency announced Wednesday that it will begin using newly installed ramp meters at the Northeast 78th Street, Main Street, state Highway 500, Fourth Plain Boulevard, Mill Plain Boulevard and State Highway 14 interchanges. The meters activate in response to the real-time traffic conditions to help reduce congestion along the corridor. The upgrades also included new overhead electronic message signs, advisory speed limit signs, and cameras and pavement sensors to monitor traffic and weather. Those other components are scheduled to go live Tuesday.