“Critical level of frustration” on state transportation funding spurs regional focus

The PSRC’s Executive Board has directed the agency to support preparation of a potential Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in 2016.

Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci

Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci says the region needs “a plan C or D” if the state legislature can’t find new funding for transportation

The Board also tasked the Transportation Policy Board with developing a recommendation on a potential regional alternative to a comprehensive statewide transportation package, should the state legislature fall short again in 2015.

Noting a “critical level of frustration on transportation funding,” Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci said “the region needs to be prepared if the state won’t move on transportation.”

“We’re getting to a crisis in Snohomish County,” said Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who emphasized light rail’s importance to the future of the state largest manufacturing center – centered at Boeing’s growing assembly plants at Paine Field.

“We need to move ST3 to a vote in 2016,” Stephanson said.

Later yesterday, Sound Transit’s board held a workshop to consider next steps toward a 2016 ballot measure.

Over the next two months Sound Transit will make key decisions on moving toward a 2016 ballot, which would require new tools approved by the state legislature to proceed.

The PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board, led by Mayor Balducci, will begin consideration of next steps for the 2015 legislature on November 13th.

You can watch yesterday’s PSRC Executive Board meeting here.


Quake vulnerable structures in region face funding cuts

If funding for shoring up earthquake vulnerable highway structures in the region holds steady, it would still take about 100 years to strengthen all of them.

FaultsinPugetSound

Washington and California share claim to being the nation’s two most earthquake prone states. Faults crisscross Puget Sound.

Tomorrow the PSRC’s Executive Board will hear that without a new state transportation package, there may be no more funds available to retrofit priority structures at all.

In 2015, state legislators will decide what gets bolstered next, and what will wait.

The state has already reinforced 300 bridges statewide – to make them less vulnerable to major earthquakes.

Within central Puget Sound, there are over 350 more to go with an estimated price tag of $1 billion.

In the current biennium, the state has allocated $22 million for seismic reinforcements.

State officials now say that competing priorities will mean there will be no money left for seismic retrofits.

Tomorrow’s Executive Board meeting gets underway at 10 a.m.  The briefing on the state’s seismic retrofit plans should start at about 11 a.m.  You can watch it here.

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$4.8 billion in transportation projects set to move forward

Transportation projects totaling more than $4.8 billion will move forward in the central Puget Sound region, following action by PSRC’s Executive Board to approve the 2015-2018 Regional Transportation Improvement Program on October 30.

The Regional Transportation Improvement Program is comprised of 253 transportation projects.

The Regional Transportation Improvement Program is comprised of 253 transportation projects.

This will include PSRC funding for projects that competed for $686 million in regional money earlier this summer.

“We hope folks will take a look at how projects were selected for PSRC’s funding,” said PSRC Executive Director Josh Brown. “The projects are the result of a transparent and competitive process. The projects were selected on their merits, including their ability to support the region’s overall strategy to sustain our economy and environment as we grow.”

The Regional Transportation Improvement Program provides a list of current transportation projects in all four counties of the region – King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish. These projects are funded with federal, state and local funds, including recent federal grants awarded through PSRC.

To find out more, visit PSRC’s online Project Map, which makes it easy to zoom in and see projects happening in different parts of the region.

The Transportation Improvement Program is required under federal and state laws, and helps to ensure that transportation projects are meeting regional policies and federal and state requirements such as those under the Clean Air Act.


New grant opportunity, take advantage of region’s preferred sustainability status

Looking for funding for your community? The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new grant program  for community assistance to build resilience and pursue revitalization.

Use the region's preferred sustainability status to get a grant for your community!

Use the region’s preferred sustainability status to get a grant for your community!

EPA is offering this technical assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program  to help communities across the country, including underserved communities, small cities and rural areas, adopt sustainable growth strategies.

The program aims to increase resilience to natural disasters and strengthen the economy while protecting human health and the environment. It provides quick, targeted technical assistance to communities using tools with demonstrated results and widespread application.

Through the Growing Transit Communities Partnership, the central Puget Sound region is designated as a preferred sustainable community for this grant program, which means applications from the region will receive extra consideration.

Applications will be accepted until November 20, 2014. EPA will host a webinar to discuss the program and the application process on Thursday, October 30, 2014, from 1 to 2 p.m. PDT.

Communities may apply for assistance on one or more of the following topics:

  • Equitable development
  • Infill development for distressed cities
  • Bikeshare planning
  • Sustainable strategies for small cities and rural areas
  • Flood resilience for riverine and coastal communities

EPA will select up to 25 communities through a competitive process.

Selections will be made in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

If selected, the community will work with an EPA-supported team of experts during a one-to-two-day workshop, where participants will learn about relevant strategies, policies, and practices.


Happy Food Day! New food action plan released

The Regional Food Policy Council just released its three year Action Plan.

Happy Food Day!

Happy Food Day!

The Action Plan is the culmination of a six month process to map out council priorities over the next three years and define the council’s role in achieving broader food system objectives.

The release coincides with Food Day, a national day of awareness of diet and food policy.

Over the next three years, the council will focus its efforts on enhancing the economic viability of local and regional food systems, and promoting equity and access to affordable nutritious food.

The Regional Food Policy Council has been active at PSRC since 2010. You can read about the council’s latest activities in the fourth year progress report, or find out more about food policy at PSRC on our food policy webpage.

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Health and transportation event Nov 6

How does the transportation system impact your health?

Find out about planning for the health impacts of transportation on November 6 at PSRC.

Find out about planning for the health impacts of transportation on November 6 at PSRC.

PSRC is hosting a special presentation on elevating health considerations in regional transportation planning on November 6 from 1 to 5 pm at 1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500 in Seattle.

Basic activity levels, air quality and safety are just a few of the ways the transportation system can affect public health. This event is designed to inform regional planners and community leaders about the ways we can improve public health with transportation planning.

Speakers will include: Jeffery Tumlin from Nelson Nygaard (co-author of the NACTO design guidelines) on why health matters and simple steps cities and MPOs can take to improve public health outcomes; David Vautin from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) on a case study from the San Francisco Bay Area on public health and transportation planning.

The event will also include a panel featuring: Dr. Ngozi Oleru, Director of the Environmental Health Division for Public Health Seattle & King County; Hillary Franz, Executive Director of Futurewise; Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica.

You can register online here.

 

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Organizations seeking grants for special needs transportation

Transportation services for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities are among the programs applying for PSRC’s special needs funding.

Northshore Senior Center provides transportation to medical appointments and other services for seniors.

Northshore Senior Center provides seniors with transportation to medical appointments and other services.

For a disabled veteran needing to get to a doctor’s appointment or a frail senior needing a ride to the grocery store, community transportation services are sometimes the only option to get where they need to go.

In the current round of funding, PSRC received 24 applications, seeking a total of $11.1 million.  About $4.4 million is available, with some additional funding anticipated from returned funds from past years.

As part of the project selection process, PSRC also provides regional rankings for projects seeking special needs and rural transportation funding through the Washington State Department of Transportation’s  2015-2017 Consolidated Grant program.

In November, the Special Needs Transportation Committee and Transportation Operators Committee will meet to review the applications and make recommendations.

On December 11, the Transportation Policy Board is scheduled to release the recommended projects for public comment.  The policy board will make a final recommendation for action by the Executive Board at their January 2015 meeting.

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