Growth board to consider expanding regional growth and manufacturing/industrial centers

Three proposals to potentially recognize new regional growth and manufacturing/industrial centers will be taken up by the Growth Management Policy Board on Thursday, October 2.

The new Pierce County library in University Place's proposed regional growth center.

A new Pierce County library is located in University Place’s proposed regional growth center.

PSRC’s policy framework for funding decisions puts priority on funding transportation projects in centers and the corridors that connect them.

University Place

University Place is requesting formal recognition of its downtown as a regional growth center.

“It is important that Pierce County remain competitive for these dollars to support projected growth,” said University Place Mayor Denise McCluskey. “University Place is the most logical location for the next Pierce County regional growth center, given existing development patterns and existing infrastructure.”

Arlington-Marysville MIC

The board will also discuss potential actions related to designation of a new Arlington-Marysville regional manufacturing center.

The area encompasses about 2,900 acres with 5,500 jobs that are predominantly in industrial, aerospace and high technology engineering. It has zoned capacity for additional employment growth.

“This is a unique opportunity to further expand our state’s manufacturing opportunities,” said Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert and Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, in their letter to PSRC.  “This designation is particularly important to Snohomish County as suppliers for the Boeing 777X and 787 lines are seeking areas to establish and expand manufacturing facilities.”

Military Facilities

The growth board will also consider whether military facilities should be regionally recognized as employment centers in the VISION 2040 and Transportation 2040 frameworks.

An initial proposal is that larger military facilities would be treated as equivalent to regional manufacturing/industrial centers, and smaller facilities would be treated as equivalent to countywide centers for the purposes of regional planning.

The Growth Management Policy Board will meet on October 2, 10 a.m. – 12 noon, in PSRC’s Board Room, 1011 Western Avenue. You can also watch the meeting video online.

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Clover Park Tech wins nearly $2.5 million for new mechatronics degrees

$2.49 million from the federal Department of Labor will help Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood establish a Mechatronics Technician degree program.


Clover Park Tech’s mascot Simon is smiling about new mechatronics degree

Vice President Joe Biden made the announcement this morning.

Clover Park’s win was boosted by the Manufacturing Communities designation secured in June.

The federal grants are designed for community and technical colleges to retrain students for high wage, high skill jobs.

The median wage for a mechatronics technician is about $27-32 an hour.

MT’s have skills in many crafts and work on robotic and other intelligent equipment.  Clover Park’s program is focused on aerospace.

Everett’s Aerospace Center for Excellence is also a winner from this round of grants, through a $9.9 million grant to Centralia College supporting centers of excellence in aerospace, clean tech and construction.

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New 520 bridge pontoons afloat

More pontoons are a step closer from Aberdeen to Lake Washington to float a new 520 bridge.

520 Pontoon

The latest pontoons for the new 520 bridge were floated into Grays Harbor today.

The six pontoons just floated out will be stored and inspected in Grays Harbor before making the trek from the Coast through the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

520 Program Manager Julie Meredith reports:

“As of today, 66 of the 77 pontoons needed for the new bridge have been built. Of these, there are now 57 pontoons currently located on Lake Washington, where crews are busy assembling the new bridge. You can find photos of today’s float-out on our Flickr page and video on YouTube.”

The state has a webpage that keeps track of pontoons and assembly of the new bridge.

The floating portion of the bridge is expected to be open to traffic in spring of 2016.

Recently the state began work on the West Approach to Montlake Boulevard.  That section is expected to carry traffic in time for the start of classes at the University of Washington in 2017.

Last year the state legislature could not agree on new funding to pay for the final leg of the bridge – connection to Interstate 5.

It is uncertain when state leaders will revive efforts to reach agreement on raising the estimated $1.3 billion needed to complete the project.


Manufacturing designation helps state’s defense sector

The Department of Defense has awarded $4.3 million to Washington state to sustain the state’s military and defense sector through reductions in defense spending.

Naval Station Everett

Naval Station Everett
The Regional Economic Strategy notes that the military cluster employs more than 92,000 people in the entire region – 56% of them within Pierce County.

The funding is the first success from the Manufacturing Communities designation the secured in May.

The designation gives aerospace related manufacturing in Washington priority in the chase for billions in federal grants.

“Jobs and the economy within each of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s four counties rely on a strong military and defense sector.  These grant funds will help sustain our military communities over the long term,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, President of the Puget Sound Regional Council.

The DOD noted that approximately 80 percent of Washington’s defense suppliers are dependent on Boeing, and 35 of 39 counties host some type of defense supplier.

The state’s congressional delegation hailed the new funds.

Governor Inslee’s office noted that the military industry accounted for 136,000 jobs and $15.7 billion in economic activity in the state in 2012.

The Washington Military Alliance is key to supporting the work ahead, including: defense supply chain mapping and forecasting, developing economic diversification strategies, and assistance to businesses and workers impacted by reductions in defense spending.

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Regional leaders: Let’s get moving on expansion of regional transit

The region’s elected leaders are urging action to accelerate the next stage of Sound Transit’s light rail investments.


In order to go the voters on the ST3 plan, Sound Transit would need additional funding authority from the Legislature.

“We need to put the pedal to the metal and set the stage for 2016,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, adding “It’s an aggressive plan and we are going to need all hands on deck to do that.”

At today’s Executive Board meeting, members heard details on Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan Update and the next steps to get the ST3 plan to the ballot, possibly by 2016.

“It is really critical that this Sound Transit 3 discussion and proposal be an entirely regional conversation,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.  “Ultimately this rail and transportation system will define the region that we leave to those that come after us.”

Constantine called for the state Legislature “to give us the tools so we can keep our region moving forward” and create prosperity in the central Puget Sound region that will benefit the entire state.

“The question I get asked is, will we see light rail to Paine Field in my lifetime?” said Snohomish County Executive John Lovick, adding “It is vital to make connections with legislators” to move this forward.

Everett Port Commissioner Troy McClelland asked for PSRC staff to come back on October 30 with a budget amendment reflecting the work necessary prepare for the ST3 proposal.

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland urged leaders to make the ST3 proposal a priority during the next legislative session, highlighting how important public transportation is to Tacoma and Pierce County.

PSRC’s executive director Josh Brown told the Executive Board that transportation is the top concern he hears about from the region’s  local elected officials.  He said he will work to ensure the PSRC’s budget and work program is in alignment and can be supportive of Sound Transit’s efforts.

You can watch the meeting video here.

New map shows where transportation projects are in the region

PSRC has put together a new web-based map of the $4.8 billion in total transportation investments that are up for public comment as part of the Regional Transportation Improvement Program.

The map includes detailed project descriptions, funding sources, and information about where these projects are located in terms of congestion, concentration of poverty, and land uses.

The map includes detailed project descriptions, funding sources, and information about where these projects are located in terms of congestion, concentrations of poverty, and land uses.

The projects are funded with federal, state, or local funds, including the nearly $700 million in funds awarded and managed through PSRC’s project selection process.

Hundreds of transportation improvements – bridge repairs, new light rail extensions, bus service, pavement preservation, sidewalks and more – will be underway through 2018 around the region.

Not all of the 253 projects listed in the Regional Transportation Improvement Program can be mapped. Bus replacements, safety improvement programs, and emissions reductions projects can be viewed here.

The public comment period will run through October 30, 2014. PSRC’s Executive Board is scheduled to approve the final 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program on October 30.

How to make a comment:
Mail: Puget Sound Regional Council
ATTN: Kelly McGourty
1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500
Seattle, Washington 98104-1035
In Person: October 9 or October 30 at PSRC offices, 1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle

Committee takes up state’s new transportation initiatives on climate change

The state transportation department outlined its role in addressing the Governor Inslee’s Executive Order on climate change in Yakima this week

Joint Transportation Committee

Committee reviews role of transportation in limiting greenhouse gas emissions

The legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee included at least one skeptic and others who expressed concern over economic impacts.

WSDOT’s presentation focused on the “Clean Transportation” elements of the state’s initiative, including: electric vehicles, technical assistance to local governments, the state’s next transportation plan, and transportation grants administered by state agencies.

“Consider me a skeptic.” said Representative Ed Orcutt of Kalama, ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, who was interested in the legislature’s oversight of statewide planning and grant making.

Senate Transportation Co-Chair Curtis King of Yakima raised concerns about possible new clean fuel standards and their costs.

“How can you implement these things without negatively impacting economic development,” King wondered, and asked that any new efforts consider economic development impacts.

WSDOT’s Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton reminded the committee that all of the new work is implementing state laws limiting greenhouse gas emissions enacted in 2008. 

Development of a new statewide transportation model is part of the planning effort.

The state hopes to complete the first statewide transportation plan incorporating limits on greenhouse gas emissions by December, 2016.