To develop and implement leading-edge surface transportation systems requires a focus on hubs, corridors and gateways.
Within major metro regions and across mega-regions, high-volume surface transportation corridors are economic and social lifelines. Corridors, and robustly functional hubs and gateways must serve as the focus of managing, planning and funding improvements.
Multi-modal transit hubs help enhance the appeal of transit for users whose bottom line, as always, is time and convenience. Going forward, better plans need to be implemented in Puget Sound for multi-modal hubs. They should provide convenient transit service with important user amenities such as on-board wireless Internet, and charging stations for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Other vital elements of metro-region surface transportation hubs should be their integration with para-transit and employer transit services, and with the latest in mobile technology to boost ride-sharing.
The Cascadia Center has been at the leading edge of research on innovative transportation hubs highlighted through our “Beyond Oil” conferences. The system of hubs we envision would transform strategically located park and ride lots and transit centers into high-tech, multi-modal centers where travelers can charge their electric vehicles, board a bus or train, meet rideshare partners, check out a shared bike or car, and make decisions based on real-time traffic and transit information. Fully developed, they also incorporate transit-oriented development features such as telework centers, workforce housing and mixed-use retail that help build sustainable communities.
Corridors are an essential concept for planning modern surface transportation systems. Corridors exist within and between regions. Distinguishing corridors is important because it can help align project needs with funding, including public-private partnerships, and user fees such as electronic time-variable tolls, transit fare increases and other revenue sources. In addition to corridors within regions, there are important corridors connecting major metro regions and states and provinces into what might be termed “mega-regions.” These mega-regions, such as Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest, and the West Coast, will play an increasingly significant role in the economic development of the U.S. and North America. But to achieve their full economic potential, complex agreements must be achieved between key actors. A strong set of policies supporting optimal surface transportation corridors is a good place to start.
Gateways in surface transportation mark key crossing points between countries and states, highlighting their shared economy and cooperation on trade, transportation, safety and security. The predominant gateway in the Cascadia Corridor is the U.S.-Canadian border crossing on I-5 at Blaine, Wash. Another major gateway is the so-called “Columbia Crossing” bridge network across the Columbia River on I-5 and I-205 which connects part of southwest Washington with part of northwest Oregon to form the greater Portland region.