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West Coast Corridor

West Coast States Ramp Up Joint Transpo Agenda

West Coast major metro regions face growing population, plus projected increases in total vehicle miles traveled and freight volume. Traffic congestion already exacts a high toll, and without serious intervention will worsen many-fold, harming economic growth and quality of life in coming decades. That means ameliorative strategies and cross-boundary collaboration between the states are more important than ever. So, top transportation advisory panels for California, Oregon and Washington will this week hold their first-ever joint meetings, in Portland and Seattle. In a Washington State Transportation Commission press release, chair Carol Moser (below, right) says:

“These joint meetings are the first ever to occur between the West Coast commissions. These types of engagements are important for building relationships and alliances between the West Coast states. They provide the opportunity for us to partner and identify our shared transportation priorities, which we…intend to continue using as leverage in influencing our collective Congressional delegations in securing federal transportation funding for the tri-state area.”

When all three commissions meet Wednesday, July 22 in Portland, one focus will be the Columbia River Crossing bridge project planned on I-5 to replace the old, dangerous and often congested twin spans connecting Clark County, Washington and Portland. The new structure will include a light rail extension, bike and pedestrian paths, and will be electronically tolled with higher rates at peak hours. The CRC project could lead to a deeper discussion of regional highway corridor tolling in metro Portland, according to some Oregon lawmakers and Portland-area planners. That approach is making inroads in metro Puget Sound, with several related state studies underway. At the Portland meeting the three commissions will also discuss the looming federal surface transportation funding re-authorization bill. The big six-year package will likely be delayed as long as 18 months from its expiration this fall, as the Obama administration and key Congressional members slog through the difficult and politically risky work of figuring out how to replace the failing federal gas tax.
For the second year running, a stopgap infusion will be required to keep solvent the federal Highway Trust Fund, which relies on the federal gas tax. A hike in the by-the-gallon tax is possible when the bill is finally re-drawn, but there is broad consensus its primacy is ending. The gas tax’s ineffectiveness has been revealed after system maintenance and expansion badly lagged during four-and-a-half decades of robust traffic growth, plus related wear-and-tear. Other more recent constraints on gas tax revenues include continually improving vehicle mileage, a trend expected to accelerate with growing production of alternative-fueled vehicles.
Many innovations are likely in the new bill, including greater funding and policy emphases on transit, biking, urban density, tolling, vehicle mileage taxes, private investment, and – the West Coast state transportation commissions hope – freight mobility.
Also on the Portland agenda: federal funding for improved inter-city and high-speed rail; and a presentation on electronic tolling projects in the state of Washington. The meeting will be preceded by an informal discussion session among commission members, also open to the public.
The Thursday, July 23 meeting in Seattle between the Washington and California commissions will highlight several surface transportation priorities the two states share.

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West Coast Mobility Solutions Key, Speakers Say

Last Thursday June 26, our Cascadia Center hosted the West Coast Tolling and Traffic Management Workshop at the Bell Harbor Conference Center on Seattle’s waterfront. Speakers came from up and down the West Coast, Washington, D.C. and London to share with a capacity crowd the latest developments in regional tolling policy, tolling and traffic management technology, and transportation public-private partnerships. First, our own quick-take on the event. Then some handy links to media coverage, and speaker PowerPoints. Discussion Highlights Democratic State Senator Ed Murray, a member of the legislative majority in Olympia and the ranking majority member of the Senate Transportation Committee, voiced strong support for public-private partnerships as one important tool to help fund the approximately $50 billion backlog Read More ›


Greening The Highway From Baja To B.C.

Our Cascadia Center held a leadership forum Weds. Sept. 19 titled “Greening The Highway from Baja to B.C.,” emphasizing the need for a unified West Coast effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions and congestion in the I-5 corridor through increased use of alternative fuels; diesel emission reduction programs; and on-board and in-roadway technology to save truckers and motorists time and fuel. Here’s our discussion brief on the initiative, and here’s a related radio story (and transcript) featuring Cascadia’s director Bruce Agnew. From the discussion brief: An important opportunity is emerging for a concerted West Coast strategy to unify alternative fuel infrastructure and green vehicle development, diesel fuel emission reduction, and intelligent transportation system technologies. Together these could yield substantial environmental Read More ›


Wanted: “Alternative Fuels Highway” – Not “Hydrogen Highway”

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell meet tomorrow in Vancouver to strategize on greenhouse gas reductions. The Governator has made climate change Priority One for his administration, winning new state goals to lower carbon dioxide emissions in coming decades, and recruiting other Western U.S. governors and Campbell to commit to similar targets. Campbell and Schwarzenegger have also been talking up a so-called “hydrogen highway” stretching from California to B.C. The idea is that in the future, lower-polluting cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells will become prevalent, and an infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations will be established along major north-south corridors such as I-5 and Route 99. Campbell has announced plans for such a network within B.C., Read More ›


Research Compendium

Last updated August 25, 2008 The research, it just keeps coming. On this page, we’ll compile links to key studies and reports on innovation in transportation. MANAGING, PLANNING & FUNDING TRANSPORTATION Cascadia Center Reports “Lessons In Public-Private Partnerships & Climate Change: What British Columbia Taught California, And What Washington Can Still Learn,” 10/07. “A Tale Of Three Cities: How San Diego, Denver and Vancouver, B.C. Raised Major Regional Funds For Transportation,” Doug Hurley, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 9/06. “Travel Value Pricing: Better Traffic Operations Management & New Revenue For The Puget Sound Region,” John S. Niles, for Cascadia Center, 4/06. “Transportation Working Group Recommendations,” Transportation Working Group, Cascadia Center For Regional Development, 2/15/05. Transportation Working Group background, members, and Read More ›