State Transportation Commission to focus on ferries, transportation plans, funding this week

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Developments in passenger ferry service and long-range transportation plan updates are among the topics before the State Transportation Commission March 21-22 in Olympia.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. S.E., 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 the public comment period at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, and at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

According to a transportation commission announcement, on Tuesday morning the Washington State Department of Transportation will report on progress for construction and planning to complete expansion of the State Route 520 corridor from Lake Washington to Interstate 5. The commission will then discuss recruitment and public outreach strategies to enroll 2,000 volunteers for a pilot project that begins later this year to evaluate how a road usage charge might work. In light of the growing fuel efficiency of new vehicles, the pilot project will let Washington drivers test the concept of road usage charging as a potential replacement to the gas tax and shape how it could work.

Afternoon briefings include updates on the transportation plan for the Central Puget Sound region and WSDOT’s implementation plan for WTP 2035, the state’s long-range transportation plan. The Puget Sound Regional Council’s update to its Transportation 2040 plan does not anticipate significant changes to the current plan but will address climate change, financial strategies and performance measures.

A presentation on the Main Street Program will highlight how 34 cities in the state participate in a unique preservation-based economic development tool that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts. “Active transportation is a common element in Main Street success, helping to leveraging local historic, cultural and architectural resources for downtown economic vitality,” the commission announcement said.

The meeting continues Wednesday morning with presentations on the past and future of passenger ferry service in Puget Sound, in particular Kitsap Transit’s offering of new passenger ferry service from Bremerton to Seattle, starting in July. Other topics on Wednesday address the freight-and-goods movement research underway at the University of Washington Supply Chain and Transportation Logistics Center, and a proposal under legislative consideration to study the feasibility of ultra high-speed rail transportation between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, B.C.

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

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