wsdot logoTemporary lane reallocations provide opportunity for physical distancing and economic recovery

OLYMPIA – With the arrival of summer and more counties relaxing restrictions under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan, the Washington state departments of Health, Commerce and Transportation have joined together to provide more access to public roadways in support of active, healthy communities and business recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This virus has hit people and businesses hard, and we need creative solutions to mitigate the virus while also resuming necessary economic activity. In most cities, a quarter of all its land is taken up by streets,” Inslee said. “I applaud the agencies’ work to ensure this land has flexible uses that can improve health and safety, and jumpstart the economy.”

The Safe, Healthy and Active Streets Program allows temporary lane reallocations on some state roadways to allow walkers and cyclists more space to maintain physical distance, and to provide greater access to businesses along “main street” highways. This temporary change to some traffic lanes could let towns increase space for people walking or biking, or create outdoor seating for restaurants and sales areas for retailers, while maintaining physical distance to help reduce exposure to the virus.

“Active transportation, like walking and biking, supports physical, mental and emotional health,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “Providing this extra public space encourages people and families to get outdoors and participate in more physical activities, which is especially important today to help cope with the stress of COVID-19.”

“Opening up portions of roadways will help retailers, restaurants and other businesses adapt to new operating requirements by giving customers greater access at their locations,” said Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “These steps strengthen communities and let people experience their main street and downtown commercial neighborhoods in new ways.”

“A number of communities across the state have already approached us about opening parking areas or lanes in their city’s commercial district for increased open space and business access,” said Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar. “We’re pleased to collaborate with them to find safe solutions that work for all users of the roadway.”

The Washington State Department of Transportation will work with requesting cities and counties to evaluate roadway segments that meet criteria for lane reallocation that is safe for all users. Eligible state highway locations will be on roadways with 35 mph speed limits or lower and within population centers with demonstrated lack of space for physical distancing for walking, bicycling or other forms of active transportation. The duration of temporary lane reallocations will be for up to 90 days, but could vary depending on the agreement with each city.

WSDOT asks interested local jurisdictions to ensure that they’ve communicated with the people and businesses affected by the changes and that they report on how the roadway changes work. Towns could use this reallocation to test and learn from changes they might want to consider implementing in the future.

WSDTlogo450OLYMPIA – The June transportation revenue forecast, reflecting the impacts of COVID-19 on state transportation revenues, will be one of the topics at a July 7 meeting of the Washington State Transportation Commission. The meeting will also kick off a year-long series of discussions on the future of transportation post-COVID-19, with the goal of identifying potential challenges and opportunities for change in the areas of transportation policy, planning, and investments in Washington state.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 7. Due to limitations on the size of gatherings in response to COVID-19, this meeting will be conducted using GoToWebinar. People interested in attending can find participation instructions and a link to register on the commission website

The commission will hear an overview of the June 2020 Washington State Transportation Revenue Forecast, as well as additional presentations specific to the revenue forecasts based on tolling traffic and ferry ridership.

Commissioners also will hear from experts offering insights into the future of transportation. The purpose of this session is to establish the big picture of potential impacts and changes to transportation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This discussion will kick off the commission’s year-long plan for assessing the possible ways in which the transportation system will evolve at all levels in Washington state, such as potential changes in shared mobility, mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian access, teleworking, and congestion management.

The commission will first hear from the principal futurist at Seattle-based Teague, who will explore what the future of transportation might look like through the lens of technology and the passenger’s experience. 

An expert panel will share their perspectives on various aspects of the new future for transportation. The panel will be moderated by Sabrina Minshall, executive director, Spokane Regional Transportation Council. Panel speakers include: Former Governor Chris Gregoire, currently the CEO of Challenge Seattle; Chris Mefford, CEO of Seattle-based Community Attributes; Mark Hallenbeck, director, University of Washington Transportation Center; and Dr. Susan Shaheen, professor, UC Berkeley, and director, Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative.

The panel will address such topics as: what travel data is telling us; what the foreseeable impacts will be to shared mobility, transit, and social equity; what the broader, long-term economic considerations are for COVID-19, including private sector impacts and anticipated shifts; and, opportunities for re-focusing long-term transportation system planning and re-inventing the “commute.”

For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/

WSDTlogo450OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed Kelly Fukai to serve on the Washington State Transportation Commission. A lifelong resident of Spokane, Fukai has worked in the aviation, energy, electrical and electronic manufacturing fields, and is currently the manager of Public and External Affairs at Spokane International Airport.

Fukai’s six-year term starts on July 1, joining the commission during unprecedented times with tremendous challenges facing our state and transportation system. With the life-changing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic comes an opportunity for state leaders to begin shaping a transportation system for the future that reflects a new era of transport. Fukai is poised to take that on and assist in advancing a new vision for our state’s transportation network.

“Our transportation system is in the midst of transformational change. I am excited to work with our elected officials, agencies, and communities to address the opportunities and challenges in the evolution of transportation.” Fukai said.

Fukai brings over 20 years of experience in leading and working with diverse groups in the development of collaborative and comprehensive plans and policies that grow necessary infrastructure, enhance economic and workforce development, and support community interests.

She joins six other commissioners from around the state who are charged with state transportation policy development, assessing how the entire transportation system works across the state, and issuing the state’s 20-year Transportation Plan. The commission also serves as the state tolling authority and leads special projects directed by the Legislature, such as the Road Usage Charge Assessment, and the Autonomous Vehicle Work Group.

“Transportation is the heart of our community’s health and economic vitality. It connects us to our family and friends, provides access to necessary goods and services, and broadens our perspectives through exposure to new places and experiences,” Fukai said.  “I am honored to work alongside our communities to ensure the resiliency of our future transportation system.”

Fukai replaces former commissioner Joe Tortorelli who served two terms on the commission. 

wsdot logoWSDOT to host virtual public meetings and teleconferences July 6, 8, and 10 

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Transportation is proposing new overall goals for disadvantaged business participation on all federally funded projects and is accepting written comments on the proposals through Friday, July 24.

The purpose of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program is to create a level playing field for firms owned and operated by disadvantaged individuals wanting to participate in federally assisted highway, transit, and aviation programs. To qualify as a DBE, a firm must be a for-profit business that is at least 51 percent owned by an individual or individuals who are women, part of a federally recognized racial minority group, or otherwise socially and economically disadvantaged. Qualifying firms must be certified by the Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises to participate in the DBE program.

The proposed overall DBE goals are available at:

The goals are for projects from Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2023.

WSDOT is inviting contractors, labor and trade organizations, small and disadvantaged businesses, and others interested in working with the agency to attend one of its upcoming informational meetings regarding the proposed DBE goals.

WSDOT has scheduled three public meetings to take comments at 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, July 6, Wednesday, July 8, and Friday, July 10. The July 6 and 8 meetings will be held online as a webinar, while the July 10 meeting will be a telephone conference. Individuals interested in attending need to register in advance by emailing Allison Spector at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Details about how to participate will be provided upon registering.

Comments on the proposed goals will be accepted until 5 p.m. Friday, July 24, and can be mailed to:

Allison Spector

Title VI & Equity Analyst

WSDOT, Office of Equal Opportunity

P.O. Box 47314

Olympia, WA 98504-7314

Or submitted to via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

WSDTlogo450OLYMPIA – As people have stayed home in efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, traffic volumes have dropped significantly on highways and ferries. During an online virtual meeting, the Washington State Transportation Commission will hear about traffic impacts from the virus across the world, in other states, and in Washington.

The meeting starts 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 19. Due to the governor’s Stay Home – Stay Healthy Order issued on March 23, this meeting will be conducted using GoToWebinar. People interested in attending can find participation instructions and a link on the commission website to register.

The commission will hear from INRIX staff, who will share data on worldwide, national, and Washington state’s traffic demand changes and trends due to the COVID-19 virus. A Kirkland-based company, INRIX analyzes traffic data from road sensors and vehicles.

Staff from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Toll Division and the Office of the State Treasurer will report on reductions in traffic volumes on the state’s toll facilities, as well as how reduced traffic has affected toll revenues and plans to assess implications of the revenue loss.

Commission staff will update commissioners on the progress of a legislatively directed study to assess the effects of tolling on low-income drivers of the Interstate 405 and State Route 167 express toll lanes, and determine possible approaches to mitigating such impacts.

Traffic volume on Washington State Ferries also has dropped significantly due to the COVID-19 virus. WSF staff will brief the commission on service changes made to maintain safe and efficient ferry service and will provide preliminary estimates of how reduced traffic has affected WSF revenues. Commissioners also will hear an update on the 2020 Ferry Riders’ Opinion Group survey schedule.   

Public comment on items on the commission’s agenda will be accepted via email. Comments should be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments received by 4 p.m. on Monday, May 18, will be provided to commission members electronically before the meeting. Those received after that deadline will be provided to commissioners after the meeting. No action is planned to take place during the May 19 meeting.

All presentations will be available on the commission’s website before the meeting. For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/

wsdot logoOLYMPIA – The arrival of spring typically means drivers in Washington have until March 31 to remove studded tires. However, this year the Washington State Department of Transportation is further extending the deadline to Friday, May 15, due to COVID-19 virus concerns and Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order to help reduce the spread of the virus by limiting social interactions. This extends the previous April 30 deadline.

“Washington is experiencing some extraordinary challenges with COVID-19 right now and we recognize this is not a time for ‘business as usual,’” said WSDOT Maintenance Operations Branch Manager James Morin. “People are dealing with a lot of concerns – and this further extension means getting tires changed by the end of April doesn’t need to be one of them.” 

Studded tires are legal in Washington from Nov. 1 to March 31. State law gives WSDOT authority to extend the deadline when circumstances call for it, most commonly when a forecast indicates widespread snow and ice. With most residents asked to stay home through Monday, May 4, removing studded tires before the previous deadline could be difficult for some.

Because the COVID-19 event is rapidly changing, WSDOT will re-evaluate the situation near the end of the new extension period. If no new extensions are granted at that time, the May 15 deadline means that starting at midnight on Saturday, May 16, drivers with studded tires face a $136 fine.

WSDOT encourages drivers to remove studded tires prior to the deadline, if possible. Studded tires damage pavement, so removing them promptly after winter has passed helps preserve state roadways. Tire removal services can get crowded near the removal deadline, so please plan accordingly.

Crews continue to monitor roads, passes and forecasts, and work to quickly clear any late season snow or ice. Travelers are always advised to “know before you go” by checking road conditions before heading out and staying up-to-date on changes by using WSDOT’s social media and email alert tools or calling the 5-1-1 road conditions report.

Other states may have different studded tire removal dates, but the Washington law applies to all drivers in the state, even visitors. No personal exemptions or waivers are issued.

More information about studded tire regulations in Washington is available online.

wsdot logoOLYMPIA – The arrival of spring typically means drivers in Washington have until March 31 to remove studded tires. However, this year the Washington State Department of Transportation is extending the deadline to Thursday, April 30, due to COVID-19 virus concerns and in support of Gov. Jay Inslee’s guidance to help reduce the spread of the virus by limiting social interactions.

“Washington is experiencing some extraordinary challenges with COVID-19 right now and we recognize this is not a time for ‘business as usual,’” said WSDOT Maintenance Operations Branch Manager James Morin. “People are dealing with a lot of concerns – trying to get tires changed by the end of the month doesn’t need to be one of them.” 

Studded tires are legal in Washington from Nov. 1 to March 31. State law gives WSDOT authority to extend the deadline when circumstances call for it, most commonly when a forecast indicates widespread snow and ice. Currently many employers, including tire removal services, are sending employees home to help stop the spread of the virus, so people’s ability to meet the deadline could be difficult.

Because the COVID-19 event is rapidly changing, WSDOT will re-evaluate the situation near the end of the extension period. If no new extensions are granted at that time, the April 30 deadline means that starting at midnight on Friday, May 1, drivers with studded tires face a $136 fine.

WSDOT encourages drivers to remove studded tires prior to the deadline, if possible. Studded tires damage pavement, so removing them promptly after winter has passed helps preserve state roadways. Tire removal services can get crowded near the removal deadline, so please plan accordingly.

Crews continue to monitor roads, passes and forecasts, and work to quickly clear any late season snow or ice. Travelers are always advised to “know before you go” by checking road conditions before heading out and staying up-to-date on changes by using WSDOT’s social media and email alert tools or calling the 5-1-1 road conditions report.

Other states may have different studded tire removal dates, but the Washington law applies to all drivers in the state, even visitors. No personal exemptions or waivers are issued.

More information about studded tire regulations in Washington is available online.

wsdot logoAs state and national efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continue, the Washington State Department of Transportation is temporarily suspending the Free Coffee Volunteer Program at safety rest areas, beginning Monday, March 16, until further notice. Statewide, 37 of our 47 safety rest areas offer the Free Coffee Program. This is a continuation of efforts to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing, minimizing touch points and limiting close personal contact.

Visitors to the Evergreen State have been receiving free coffee via the popular volunteer-run stations for more than 20 years. The program benefits drivers and allows groups to collect donations for non-profits.

It is important to note, that all of the state’s 47 rest areas remain open. WSDOT has implemented additional precautions to disinfect rest areas including more frequent cleaning of touch points, and refilling of soap and hand sanitizer.

WSDOT’s top priority is the safety of our staff and the traveling public.

WSDTlogo450OLYMPIA – State and regional plans to address future transportation needs are the focus of the State Transportation Commission’s meeting next week in Olympia. The meeting includes briefings on three regional long-range plans, development of the state’s Active Transportation Plan, status of the Highway System Plan update, and planning efforts underway to bring High Speed Rail to Washington.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. both Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. The meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during public comment periods at the end of each day.

The emphasis on long-range transportation planning at this meeting reflects the commission’s commitment to on-going implementation of WTP 2040 and Beyond, the statewide transportation plan, which the commission adopted in December 2018. The plan set the stage for identifying projects, investment strategies, and responsibilities for tackling critical needs statewide. It provides guidance for local and state plans to work in concert to keep Washington moving. This agenda looks in depth at how WTP 2040 and Beyond has influenced regional and state plans, including those from Thurston County Regional Planning Council, Island County Regional Transportation Planning Organization, and Peninsula Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

On Tuesday morning, the commission will hear an update on the state’s toll facilities, including the State Route 99 tunnel performance, and traffic and revenue updates for all tolled facilities. Later, the co-author of Pricing Roads, Advancing Equity, will talk about how several North American cities, including Seattle; Vancouver, British Columbia; San Francisco and Los Angeles, are exploring downtown congestion pricing as a way to solve several urban transportation problems at once, including the opportunity to improve transportation options in places that have been underserved.

Tuesday afternoon, the Washington State Department of Transportation will brief the commission on how the agency’s collaborative approach with Metropolitan and Regional Transportation Planning Organizations provides an opportunity to rethink how to prioritize, program and fund investments in the transportation system. Presentations also will be given by WSDOT staff on development of an Active Transportation plan and the process being used for the Highway System Plan update.

Wednesday morning WSDOT staff will provide an overview of the work to date by the states of Oregon and Washington, the province of British Columbia, and multiple other private and public partners to examine the options for regional High Speed Rail.

Finally, Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar will present a state and national perspective on Cooperative Automated Transportation (CAT). An integrated way to improve safety, mobility, and operations efficiency, CAT enables all modes of transportation to work together through interdependent vehicle and systems automation and information exchange.

For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/

WSDTlogo450OLYMPIA – Topics related to the future of the transportation system are on the Washington State Transportation Commission’s meeting agenda for next week. Discussions will include recent federal guidance on the advancement of autonomous vehicles, capabilities of our electrical grid to accommodate continued growth in electric vehicles, addressing future funding needs, and possible ways to simplify ferry fares in the future.

The transportation commission will hold its monthly meeting starting at 9 a.m. both Wednesday, Feb. 19, and Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. The meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during public comment periods at the end of each day.

On Wednesday, staff from the Utilities and Transportation Commission will present information on the ability of the electrical grid to handle the growing number of electric vehicles in Washington state, considering future levels of electric vehicle adoption.

Staff from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Innovative Partnerships Program will update the commission on a transit-oriented development project at the Kingsgate Park and Ride lot. WSDOT is partnering with Sound Transit, King County Metro, and the City of Kirkland to better utilize the existing park and ride lot to accommodate additional parking, housing and commercial development, while enhancing transit access.

Wednesday afternoon, the commission will take up a request from residents and organizations from Klickitat County to name US 97 through their county the “World War II Veterans Memorial Highway.”

The Office of the State Treasurer will provide a report on State Route 520 toll rate performance. Each year, the State Treasurer assesses the current SR 520 toll rates to ensure they will meet financing requirements. In addition, staff will brief the commission on the State Treasurer’s recent assessment of the state’s debt load, its value and its costs.

Next, the commission will receive a briefing on new guidance and standards recently issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation on automated vehicle operations and technologies. This briefing will contrast the federal approach to autonomous vehicle development and guidance with the approach taken in Europe and elsewhere. 

Also on Wednesday, the commission will hear an overview of the Joint Transportation Committee’s study assessing statewide transportation funding needs and priorities, and identifying ways in which to address them. The final report of findings and recommendations are due to the state legislature by Dec. 31, 2020.

On Thursday, Washington State Ferries will brief the commission on its fare simplification study. The study assessed the existing fare structure and its evolution over time, and identified the opportunities and challenges for simplifying the fare structure. WSF also will discuss its initial work investigating a low-income fare pilot as authorized by the commission last year. If funded by the Legislature, this pilot would test a special passenger fare for low-income customers, for up to three years.

Also Thursday, the commission will receive an update on the Ferry Riders Opinion Group (FROG) survey panel made up of nearly 25,000 ferry riders. This briefing will provide an overview of upcoming  surveys and  focus areas for  2020 . Each year, the commission surveys ferry riders to better inform WSF level of service, operational, pricing, planning, and investment decisions. People interested in joining the FROG can sign up at: ferryridersopiniongroup.com

For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/