Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council

Transportation Issues in the News

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.

In Our View: Climate essential component of I-5 Bridge plan - July 21, 2021
A focus on climate issues as part of a replacement Interstate 5 Bridge is necessary and forward-thinking. Constructing a bridge to effectively serve the region over the next 100 years or so requires attention to the realities of a changing climate. The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program office last week laid out a timeline for moving the project forward. The condensed version: Planners hope to settle on a preferred configuration over the next year, answering major design questions. And they hope to begin construction by the middle of 2025. As reported in The Columbian, a significant portion of last week’s meeting of the Executive Steering Committee was devoted to climate issues. Sarah Ogier, the program’s principal climate officer, detailed how limited capacity for biking and walking, along with constraints on public transit, add to the carbon footprint of the current bridge.
Working in Clark County: Rob Klug, Transportation Division manager at Clark County Public Works - July 19, 2021
Drivers on Clark County roads be aware: you’re (most likely) on camera. There are nearly 100 cameras at various traffic signals in the urban area outside of the city, managed by Clark County Public Works. But if you’re concerned about privacy or government oversight, Clark County Public Works Transportation Division Manager Rob Klug assures that the county doesn’t record or save the images. The 53-year-old transportation engineer and his team use the data collected from cameras to improve traffic flow and safety. “What it does is record every single change in the traffic signal at 1/10th of a second intervals. They’re gathering 400,000 to 600,000 data points a day,” he said. “If someone says, ‘I waited at this intersection too long,’ we can go back and mine that data and figure out why it was occurring.”
I-5 Bridge project details timeline, goals - July 18, 2021
Less than a year from now, the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program office hopes to have settled on a single preferred configuration for a new Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River — one that would answer all of the big design questions, such as how many lanes the bridge would have and what kind of high-capacity transit it would carry. That’s according to the timeline that program administrator Greg Johnson laid out at Tuesday’s meeting of the project’s Executive Steering Committee, which is composed of representatives from local governments such as Vancouver, Portland and Metro and regional agencies including C-Tran and TriMet.
Clark County road work gets into gear - July 17, 2021
Washington State Department of Transportation officials say they’re in the midst of a busy summer packed with repair projects and maintenance work on Southwest Washington roadways, and local motorists should try to stay on top of big upcoming projects and prepare to deal with occasional delays. The region was lucky enough to make it through the late June heat wave without any significant roadway damage, according to WSDOT public information officer Kelly Hanahan, but the agency still has its hands full keeping up with maintenance work in Clark County and the surrounding counties.
C-Tran ridership on the rebound in Clark County - July 13, 2021
June 30 marked the end of most of Washington’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions including the indoor mask mandate at most businesses and public locations, but the requirement has persisted for transit riders on C-Tran buses due to separate state and federal mandates. That date did bring an end to occupancy restrictions on C-Tran buses, however. It was a welcome change of pace given that ridership has begun to rebound in recent months. Buses were previously capped at 75 percent occupancy. “Every day, we’re seeing an uptick,” said Chris Selk, C-Tran director of communication and customer experience. C-Tran’s ridership plunged during the pandemic, although Selk noted that C-Tran saw the smallest negative impact out of all transit agencies in Washington.
Vancouver bike and pedestrian projects receive grants - July 8, 2021
The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council’s Board of Directors announced Wednesday that it has selected five bike and pedestrian projects in Clark County to receive about $1.59 million in federal Transportation Alternatives funding. The two largest grants will go toward construction of the Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue Sidewalk project ($600,000) and the Evergreen Highway Path in Vancouver ($500,000). The remainder will go toward design work on the Highway 99 Sidewalk project ($145,000), the Pacific Highway Shared Use Path in La Center ($200,000) and Segment 4 of the Port of Vancouver’s Renaissance Trail project ($140,000).
Columbia Street repaving project a major pedal pusher - July 7, 2021
A long-planned project to repave and restripe Columbia Street in west Vancouver is finally underway, with crews expected to wrap up the first phase of their work around mid-July. The project’s contractor, Granite Construction, began the project on June 21 by removing a traffic circle at the corner of 24th Street. Crews then got to work grinding off the top few inches of existing pavement starting at Mill Plain Boulevard and stretching north to 45th Street. The actual paving work – originally scheduled to start June 28 but postponed by a day due to the region’s record-shattering heat wave – is underway.
Clark County asks bicycle enthusiasts to take survey - July 6, 2021
Wish you felt safe biking on local streets – but definitely don’t? Local cyclists and cyclist wannabes are encouraged to help Clark County’s Public Works and Public Health departments prioritize local bike-safety needs and projects – from dangerous street connections to local driver education – by taking a brief online survey. The results will be used in a “Safe Roads 4 All” campaign designed to promote public health by raising awareness of bicycle safety, as well as safe driving and passing practices around bikes. Please visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/SFKG7TG to begin the 17-question survey about your own bike-riding habits and local challenges. The survey opened to the public on July 1 and closes on Jan. 1, 2022.
Highway 14 congested corridor to gain lanes in east Vancouver - June 22, 2021
The state Highway 14 corridor in Vancouver is notorious for rush hour congestion, with an especially unpleasant chokepoint between Interstate 205 and Southeast 164th Avenue that tends to tie up commuters heading for Oregon. The Washington State Department of Transportation has a project in the works aimed at easing that bottleneck, and construction is scheduled to kick off early next year. “When we did initial modeling, (we found that) you can count on this corridor being congested every single day,” WSDOT traffic operations planning engineer Michael Southwick said. The congestion follows a rush hour pattern, he said, although the morning westbound congestion tends to be worse than its eastbound evening counterpart. That’s based on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic, he added. Traffic volumes dropped last year but have been steadily climbing back.
C-Tran charges ahead with electric buses - June 10, 2021
C-Tran is poised to take its first step toward electrifying its bus fleet. The agency’s board of directors voted Tuesday to authorize the purchase of eight new battery-electric buses to replace eight of the fleet’s oldest diesel models. The purchase contract – priced at a maximum of about $9.74 million – includes eight 40-foot battery-electric buses and associated charging infrastructure from Gillig Corp. C-Tran tested a loaner electric bus in 2014, but the new purchase agreement marks the first time the agency will put fully electric buses into regular operation. The current fleet consists of 117 transit buses, 66 of which are hybrids.
Frog Ferry pilot program to begin in Portland, add Vancouver later - June 9, 2021
Friends of Frog Ferry, the nonprofit spearheading an effort to bring a river taxi service to the Portland area, held a press conference Tuesday to announce plans for a two-year pilot program. Vancouver would not be part of the test route, but could be added to the lineup later. The pilot program would consist of a single vessel traveling between Cathedral Park in North Portland and the Riverplace marina at the south end of downtown Portland. The group hopes to start the program in the summer or fall of 2022, according to founder Susan Bladholm. The pilot route is estimated to take 25 minutes one way. The ferry would run from 5 to 10 a.m. and then again from 2 to 7 p.m., Bladholm said, with one round trip per hour. Tickets would cost $3, with a discounted $2 ”honored citizen“ option.
WSDOT to repair, replace I-5 bridges over Lewis River near Woodland - June 4, 2021
Interstate 5 over the river near the border of Clark County. The aging structure is functionally obsolete and faces a high risk of collapse in an earthquake, and the Washington State Department of Transportation is working to replace it in the near future. Nope, not that one. The Columbia River Interstate 5 Bridge – and the ongoing effort to replace it – tends to grab the biggest headlines, but Clark County’s northern border is also delineated by a river with a vital I-5 crossing, and those northern bridges have similarly reached an age where they demand attention.