STEVENSON, Wash. – Transportation challenges unique to rural areas will be highlighted in a meeting between the transportation commissions from Washington state, Oregon and California this month in Stevenson, Washington. Presenters from the three states will lead discussions on rural freight-movement challenges; the connection between reliable rural access, jobs and economic growth; emergency access and enabling response; and road usage charging efforts in all three states.
The tri-state meeting is from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Sept. 16, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Skamania Lodge, 1131 Skamania Lodge Dr., Stevenson. The meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commissions may do so during the public comment period at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Following opening remarks from each state’s commission chair, Monday’s meeting kicks off with a panel discussion of the complex supply chains involving trucks, trains, barges and planes that move rural freight from farm to markets across the country and the world. Another panel will focus on reliable transportation access in rural areas. Panelists will discuss how highways, public transportation, rural airports and trails all uniquely contribute to sustainable economic development and opportunity.
On Monday afternoon, commissioners from the three states will tour the regional area on both sides of the Columbia River, and make stops at a few businesses to hear first-hand the transportation challenges they face in moving product and conducting business in a rural setting. The commissioners will also get a briefing on the Hood River Bridge and will view a bicycle-pedestrian facility on Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway.
During Tuesday’s meeting, each state will share how it responds to natural disasters – from wildfires to seismic events – and the role transportation agencies and infrastructure plays in response and recovery. Panelists will include an Okanogan County commissioner who has worked on partnerships and planning to better respond to region-wide wildfires, and the mayor of Paradise, California, the town in the Sierra foothills ravaged by fire last fall.
Other meeting topics include a briefing from the administrators of the Federal Highway Administration in each state, and the latest work by each state to address declining revenue from the gas tax as cars and trucks become more fuel-efficient. The three West Coast states lead the nation in developing a road usage charge as an alternative funding source to replace the gas tax.
Since 2009, the Washington State Transportation Commission has met periodically with its colleagues in California and/or Oregon to share strategies for addressing common issues and to identify opportunities for collaboration. During their 2018 meeting, the three state bodies focused on technology and transportation.
The meeting will be webcast live on tvw.org.
For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/