Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council

Bi-State Coordination Committee Documents

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TO: Bi-State Transportation Committee
FROM: Dean Lookingbill, RTC Transportation Director
Andy Cotugno, Metro Transportation Director
DATE: August 29, 2000
SUBJECT: Bi-State Transportation Committee First Annual Assessment

On September 20, 2000 the Bi-State Transportation Committee will have reached its first year anniversary. The bylaws call for an annual report back to JPACT and RTC. In order to develop the report, Committee members will be asked to discuss what they see as the most important information/tasks/decisions of the last year and will be asked to discuss which of these should be in the report to JPACT and RTC. A chronological listing of last year’s meetings and their topics is presented below as a memory jogger.

September 20, 1999
  • The first meeting of the Bi-State Transportation Committee was held at the Port of Vancouver. After an extended time devoted to member introductions, the Committee discussed how to define the bi-state transportation problem and the charge/ operating procedures for the Committee.
  • The Committee first looked at the common elements that bind the two communities together. These included an interdependent economy, interrelated land use and a single air quality air shed. Discussion then centered on the question; how does transportation keep you from achieving these plans. While traffic congestion is a problem in both the I-5 and I-205 corridors, the biggest risk or impact is that the traffic congestion will result in lost economic opportunities and failure to achieve the land use vision/plans.
  • The Committee reviewed and agreed with their charge as given by JPACT and RTC. The Committee then agreed to build a base for their discussions by examining the bi-state interrelationship between the land use plans and the transportation system improvements.
November 1, 1999
  • Nearly the entire meeting was devoted to the presentation and discussion of the land use planning process in the Portland region. The 2040 Growth Concept relative to transportation plans rely on high density mixed use centers that help to reduce travel demand and provide the opportunity to be served by transit. It was noted that transportation planning at Metro tries to focus on using transportation investment to leverage land use goals rather that capacity expansion to address traffic congestion. Metro’s level of service policy generally accepts one hour or more of congestion.
  • Metro’s urban growth boundary was discussed and how that has impacted transportation decisions.
  • The City of Portland’s land use planning process was discussed as was the Port of Portland and the City of Gresham.
  • In relating the Portland area land use planning process to bi-state transportation issues, it was agreed the jobs-housing balance needs to be discussed by the Committee and the bi-state transportation benefits of a better jobs-housing balance was achieved.
November 15, 1999
  • Congressman Brian Baird attended the meeting and pledged his support to the bi-state process. He also said he would be working closely with his Oregon peers, Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio who sit on a congressional transportation committee.
  • Most of the meeting was devoted to the land use planning process in Clark County. Clark County, City of Vancouver, Battle Ground and Port of Vancouver planning staffs gave presentations.
  • The discussion following the presentations recognized that direct economic and transportation impacts are not reflected in either region’s land use planning process. One of the major issues for the Committee to come to an understand is the degree to which adding or not adding river crossing capacity fuels or stifles growth. History shows the opening of the I-205 corridor led to a huge land rush. In question is how the current and future levels of congestion on I-5 will affect freight and economic development in the two ports.
January 27, 2000
  • The meeting agenda included an aggressive array of topics including: making the land use and transportation connection, the leadership committee structure for the I-5 Trade Corridor Study and the findings of the I-5 HOV Study.
  • Metro staff presented a memorandum that suggested how the Bi-State Committee could better integrate land use and transportation in the I-5 Trade Corridor. The memo addressed this by posing a series of relevant questions categorized under the following three headings: jobs/housing balance, using transportation to meet land use objectives, and solving the transportation problem with land use actions.
  • A paper comparing the commercial and industrial development costs in Clark County vs. Portland prepared by the Portland Development Commission was presented. The paper suggested that changing the current taxing structure in Washington would not encourage more business to locate in Vancouver. In terms of commercial and industrial cost comparisons, fees/permits/development charges are similar and land costs are less in Vancouver but this is only one of the factors that comprise a business location decision. In regard to business operating cost comparisons, the level of state taxes for both states is higher than all local taxes, and Oregon taxes are higher than Washington in nearly all examples.
  • Oregon Department of Transportation Commissioner and Chair Henry Hewitt along with Washington Department of Transportation Commissioner Ed Barnes discussed the recommendations from Phase I of the I-5 Trade Corridor Study. The key recommendation was that the I-5 corridor is the most congested segment of freeway in the region and in order to maintain the economic vitality of the region, a strategic plan to improve the corridor including the possibility of expanding transportation capacity across the Columbia River must be completed. Bi-State Committee members offered their suggestions on how to structure the leadership for the second phase and emphasized the need to include financing options in the study.
  • The Committee’s discussion on the I-5 HOV Study was limited by time and it was agreed that the HOV presentation would be continued at another meeting.
February 24, 2000
  • Oregon Department of Transportation Commissioner and Chair Henry Hewitt along with Washington Department of Transportation Commissioner Ed Barnes returned for the second meeting to present the proposed leadership structure for Phase II of the I-5 Trade Corridor Study and to outline the draft objectives of the second phase. The Committee discussed each of these and continued to stress that the jobs/housing balance needed to be an element of the solution.
  • The findings of the I-5 HOV Study were presented. The findings recommended that a bi-state I-5 HOV facility was feasible given certain constraints. The Committee discussed the findings and agreed that the findings should come back in the form of a recommendation and proposed action.
  • The topic of bi-state transit services and coordination was not addressed as originally scheduled due to limited time.
March 23,1999
  • C-Tran and Tri-Met each presented background on their transit system services and how the bi-state element of the system are coordinated. C-TRAN discussed the results of their recent system-wide operational analysis, the impacts of I-695 and how both of these will impact their bi-state commuter service. Tri-Met talked about the current bus service, but emphasized current light rail transit projects that will take LRT to the airport in the I-205 corridor and to the Expo Center in the I-5 corridor.
  • As requested, the I-5 HOV recommendations were presented to the Committee for their feedback. The Committee discussed and formulated their recommendations for the new southbound HOV lane proposal. Their recommendations are summarized as follows: 
    1. recommend to ODOT to continue the northbound HOV lane permanently,
    2. recognize that HOV across the bridge is not a safe option,
    3. northbound HOV lane north of the bridge not be pursued under current conditions,
    4. recommend to WSDOT to open the new widening project with southbound HOV lanes,
    5. recommend to ODOT to consider HOV at Delta Park,
    6. keep looking at all options given the findings that come out of the I-5 Trade Corridor, and
    7. include public participation in the HOV process for both RTC and JPACT.
    Staff was asked to put the Committee’s recommendations into a resolution for action at the next meeting.
April 27, 2000
  • ODOT staff presented the operation and use of the existing northbound HOV lane. The following information was highlighted:
    1. the HOV lane is carrying 2400 persons per hour compared to 1700 persons in the general purpose lane,
    2. the HOV lane has a travel time savings of 6-7 minutes, and
    3. opinion polls show public is stable at 70% in favor of the lane.
  • Prior to taking action on the I-5 HOV resolution, the Chair emphasized that the Bi-State Committee’s responsibility is to give transportation policy advise to JPACT and RTC and that the Bi-State Committee’s resolution would be forwarded to them. After considerable discussion of the various segments of the HOV lane and the issues surrounding a 2 general purpose, 1 HOV lane vs. three general purpose, plus 1 HOV lane it was agreed the 2+1 was the best configuration. The need to continue to pursue the widening project through Delta Park along with a public involvement program was emphasized in the final recommendations. The resolution was passed unanimously to recommend to JPACT and RTC the implementation of the recommended HOV facility in the I-5 corridor.
  • Port of Portland staff presented their proposal for West Hayden Island development. Staff explained that the Port has secured the rights to the undeveloped west end of Hayden Island to help meet the needs of a projected tripling of exports in the region by 2030 and to maintain Portland’s advantage as an international shipping and trade center. West Hayden Island is the last large parcel available in the region that could be developed for marine terminals. Staff explained the market for West Hayden Island development and the plans to address concerns of growth and quality of life. The Port will need zoning approval from the Portland City Council.
June 22, 2000
  • Since the initial April decision to move forward with the construction of an HOV facility a series of final operational and design activities had been completed. The Committee heard that the design had been completed for the portion of the facility in the new construction section of I-5 (Main Street to 78th street) and the main issue remaining for the portion of the facility (Main Street to I-5 Interstate Bridge) was how/where to end the HOV designation just north of the I-5 Bridge. WSDOT staff expressed confidence that these issues would soon be resolved. Plans were being made to present the HOV facility to the Washington State Transportation Commission in August.
  • The majority of the meeting time was devoted to a discussion of the findings of the Regional Air Transportation Demand Task Force. The air demand task force was charged with validating the air travel demand forecast for the PDX Master Plan, and what alternatives should be looked at as a part of the master plan. Findings of the report included the following: the demand forecast used in the master plan is reasonable, lower cost alternatives should be explored as a means of expanding air port capacity and a new airport north or south of PDX should not be a high priority for study right now.
  • The meeting schedule and potential topics for the fall, winter and next spring was distributed for discussion. The Committee discussed these and set the fall kick-off meeting for September 7th.

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