Transportation Commission to consider road usage charge pilot project and tolling items Oct. 17-18
- Written by Reema Griffith, WSTC executive director
- Hits: 102
OLYMPIA – Tolling topics and plans for a Road Usage Charge pilot project are on the agenda for the State Transportation Commission’s meeting next week in Olympia. The commission also plans to name a section of State Route 507 in honor of an Iraqi war veteran who died in action.
The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. both Tuesday, Oct. 17, and Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. This meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during public comment periods at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday and 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning, the commission will hear a progress report for the Road Usage Charge pilot project that will launch early in 2018. A road usage charge is a per-mile charge drivers would pay for the use of the roads. It is under consideration as a potential replacement for the gas tax drivers now pay on a gallon of gasoline. In light of growing fuel efficiency of new vehicles, which consume less gas and therefor raise less revenue, it would provide a more sustainable funding source for investments in transportation infrastructure. The pilot project will engage 2,000 volunteers from across the state to test the concept and shape how it might work.
With detailed planning for the pilot project operations well underway, the commission will learn more about current public attitudes toward road usage charging, and progress with volunteer recruitment. Additional discussions will focus on reporting options, activities of other partners in the pilot project, and the draft evaluation plan.
Other briefings on Tuesday include transportation recommendations from the Resilient Washington subcabinet, a proposal to accommodate autonomous vehicles on Interstate 5, and transit agency perspectives on tolling.
In addition, the commission will take action on a proposal initiated by the city of Rainier to name the portion of SR 507 within the community for Sgt. Justin D. Norton. A graduate of Rainier High School, Sgt. Norton was killed in action in 2006 while on patrol in Baghdad.
On Wednesday morning, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Toll Division will report on FY 2017 traffic and revenue for each tolled facility, as well as progress toward meeting legislative benchmarks for toll operations and efficiency.
The meeting will conclude with an update by a commission workgroup formed to assess options for providing long-term, toll-payer relief for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The legislature has asked that the commission deliver its prioritized policy solutions to the legislature by December 2017.
For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/
Public comments wanted on the draft Washington Transportation Plan
- Written by Richard Warren, WSDOT
- Hits: 142
WSDOT seeking input on 20-year plan by Nov. 6
- OLYMPIA – Washingtonians have an opportunity to provide input into the future of the state’s transportation system through the Washington Transportation Plan, Phase 2 – Implementation. The plan establishes how the state can prepare itself for an uncertain future in the face of climate change and advances in technology.
- The Washington State Department of Transportation is seeking public comments on the plan from now through Nov. 6, 2017.
The plan builds on WTP Phase 1, which established a 20-year vision for the statewide multimodal transportation system. Phase 1 highlighted emerging trends and challenges facing the state’s transportation system and developed recommendations for meeting those challenges.
WTP Phase 2 implements recommendations from Phase 1 through four focus areas and 11 action items to achieve the 20-year vision established in Phase 1. It also establishes how the state can prepare itself for four plausible, but uncertain futures regarding climate change and technology and their potential impacts on the statewide transportation system. Through its proposed recommendations, Phase 2 will guide decision makers on major issues facing the statewide transportation system.
How to comment on the plan
The comment period closes on Nov. 6, 2017. Copies of the plan and a comment form for submitting feedback are available:
- Online: https://washtransplan.com/
- By telephone request: 206-464-1261
- By written request:Washington State Department of Transportation, Multimodal Planning Division, 401 Second Ave., Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104.
Plan ahead now for Labor Day travel
- Written by Meagan Lott, WSDOT
- Hits: 144
Travelers on I-90 should plan for significant congestion Friday and Monday
OLYMPIA – Heading out for one last summer holiday weekend? Planning ahead could be the key to smooth sailing whether on land or sea.
Travelers can use the Washington State Department of Transportation’s traffic volume charts this holiday weekend to “know before they go” and help time their travel on key routes. In particular, this year, holiday congestion is expected on Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass – especially westbound traffic.
Bridge deck repairs in the westbound lanes of I-90 between the summit of Snoqualmie Pass (milepost 52) and North Bend (milepost 34) will not be complete by Labor Day as initially hoped. This means only two of three lanes will be open for drivers heading westbound. The lane closures are needed because portions of the bridge decks have been removed and traffic can’t be shifted back on those decks until new concrete is placed and cured. Drivers will also encounter lane closures and traffic shifts through the Cle Elum area (milepost 86) due to work to replace old pavement with new concrete lanes.
During the holiday weekend:
- Eastbound travelers will experience delays on Friday, Sept. 1, and should consider traveling early in the day or late in the evening.
- Westbound travelers should expect major delays Monday, Sept. 4, near the detour. If possible, travelers may want to leave early or possibly extend their return trip into Tuesday, Sept. 5.
- The WSDOT I-90 travel charts do not reflect this construction work, but they can still be used as an overall guide to the times when the most congestion is expected.
Navigating congested areas
- Slow down: Please obey posted speed limits. Speed is reduced for everyone’s safety.
- Stay alert: Be especially aware of other vehicles and prepare for any sudden stops.
- Allow extra travel time: Drivers delayed by congestion sometimes try to compensate by driving faster once the congestion clears. Instead, allow extra travel time or consider adjusting travel schedules if possible.
Know before you go
- Check WSDOT’s mobile app, Twitterand Facebook accounts, and online tools for traffic information and ferry schedules.
- Call the 511 travel information For out-of-state callers, it’s 1-800-695-ROAD (7623).
- Pre-program vehicle radios to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
To ease congestion statewide, WSDOT suspends most state highway construction work during the holiday weekend starting Friday, Sept. 1. On Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4, the State Route 520 bridge toll will be on holiday rates, while the Interstate 405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all drivers.
Washington State Ferries passengers should expect heavier traffic during the holiday weekend and reservations are strongly recommended for the Anacortes/San Juan Islands; Anacortes/Sidney, British Columbia; and Port Townsend/Coupeville ferry routes.
- Reservations can be made onlineor by calling 888-808-7977.
- Visit the schedules and best travel timeswebsite for more details.
Travelers planning to avoid highway congestion by traveling via train, personal aircraft or transit also should factor the holiday into their plans:
- Amtrak Cascades passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets early and should plan to arrive at the station one hour before departure. Book nowor call 800–USA–RAIL for details.
- Aviators can get updates on state-operated airportsor by calling 800-552-0666.
- Most public transit systemswill follow a holiday schedule, and some transit systems will not operate fixed-route or Dial-A-Ride service on holidays.
Help wanted: State seeks volunteers to count people who bike and walk
- Written by Ann Briggs, WSDOT
- Hits: 1151
Statewide partnership preparing for annual count Sept. 26-28
OLYMPIA – The number of people who choose to walk or ride bicycles as their mode of transportation is increasing in Washington each year. Just how many? Here is an opportunity to help the state find out. Volunteer registration is now open for anyone who wants to help count the number of people who walk or ride bicycles to their destinations during a three-day survey starting Tuesday, Sept. 26.
Volunteer support is vital to the success of this project, and about 400 people are needed for the count. In 2016, volunteers tallied more than 78,000 people biking and walking in communities across Washington.
For this ninth annual survey, the Washington State Department of Transportation and Cascade Bicycle Club are partnering with FeetFirst, Washington Bikes and Futurewise to help count the number of people bicycling and walking Tuesday, Sept. 26, through Thursday, Sept. 28.
“Data from this survey help state and local governments plan and evaluate improved connections for Washingtonians who walk and bike, in a similar way we plan for other modes of travel,” said Active Transportation Division Director Barb Chamberlain. “Volunteers make the collection process possible – we couldn’t do this work without them.”
This volunteer effort makes sure that people who bike and walk are counted as essential users of the transportation system. Data collected during the count is used by state and local agencies to estimate demand; measure the benefit of bicycle and pedestrian project investments; and improve policies, project designs and funding opportunities.
In addition to the annual count, WSDOT, Cascade Bicycle Club, and local agencies are partnering to install permanent counters at locations around the state. To see data from both data collection programs, visit the WSDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Portal.
To sign-up to volunteer, visit bikepedcount.wsdot.wa.gov
WSDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club are asking volunteers from across the state to perform the counts in nearly 60 communities including Anacortes, Bainbridge Island, Battle Ground, Bayview, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bothell, Bremerton, Burien, Burlington, Concrete, Ellensburg, Everett, Federal Way, Ferndale, Gig Harbor, Issaquah, Kelso, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, La Conner, Lake Forest Park, Lakewood, Longview, Lyman, Lynden, Mercer Island, Milton, Mount Vernon, Mountlake Terrace, Oak Harbor, Olympia, Orting, Parkland, Pasco, Pullman, Puyallup, Renton, Richland, Seattle, Sedro-Woolley, Shoreline, Skagit County, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Spokane Valley, Sumner, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Reservation, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, Vancouver, Vashon Island, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.
WSDOT’s count is part of the National Documentation Project, an annual bicycle and pedestrian count and survey effort sponsored by the Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian and Bicycle Council. The count will also help measure WSDOT’s progress toward the goal of increasing bicycling and walking to reduce the number of vehicle miles driven.
Transportation commission sets new ferry fares, makes changes to original proposal
- Written by Reema Griffith, WSTC executive director
- Hits: 440
SEATTLE – After hearing from ferry riders during local community meetings, reviewing hundreds of emails, and gathering input from key stakeholder groups, the Washington State Transportation Commission took final action today (Wednesday, July 26) on ferry fare increases that will be implemented over the next two years. The commission made changes to its original proposal in response to public input, which resulted in benefits to passengers and bicyclists.
The commission is required to ensure ferry fares generate $381 million in operating revenue between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2019, as required in the recently passed two-year state transportation budget for Washington State Ferry operations. The commission’s fare proposal accomplished that but increases to passenger fares and bicycles with trailers generated the most concern from the public. In response to those concerns, the commission reduced the passenger fare increase in 2017 from 2.5 percent, to 2.1percent. It also applied a fare increase to bikes towing a kayak or canoe; this does not change the fare for bicyclists towing other types of trailers.
The final ferry fare adjustments adopted by the commission will take effect as follows:
- October 1, 2017
- 2.9 percent fare increase for small and standard sized vehicles
- 0.8 percent to 1.8 percent fare increase for oversized vehicles (22 feet and longer), depending on vehicle size
- 2.1 percent fare increase for passengers
- Passengers who bring bicycles towing kayaks or canoes will pay the motorcycle/ stowage fare. All other bicyclists towing items other than a kayak or canoe would continue to pay the same fare as today (bicycle surcharge plus the passenger fare).
- October 1, 2018
- 2.5 percent fare increase for small and standard sized vehicles
- No fare increase for oversized vehicles (22 feet and longer)
- 2.1 percent fare increase for passengers
- School Group passengers fare will increase from $1 per group for a one-way trip to $5 per group for a one-way trip
For more information on the commission, and its ferry fare proposal and fare setting process, please visit the transportation commission’s web site: www.wstc.wa.gov