Come hear from education and housing leaders at March 5 forum

Are there policies or partnerships that could help students get a better education and meet needs for affordable, stable housing in the region?

Join housing and education leaders a free forum on March 5.

Join housing and education leaders for a free forum on March 5.

The Where We Live and Where We Learn forum will highlight innovative housing and education collaborations that benefit families and children.

The event will be held 2-4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, at Seattle City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes Room.

The case for interconnected housing and education policies and programs is especially compelling for Washington state policymakers this year. The McCleary decision, which requires that the Washington State Legislature enact reforms to meet its mandate to amply fund public K-12 education, will impact the funding landscape for all statewide programs and services.

The forum will cover:

  • successes and challenges in existing partnerships between housing authorities, schools, and others
  • future partnerships between education and affordable housing developers
  •  strategies to better support these partnerships through policy work

PSRC is co-hosting the forum in partnership with the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle and King County and the Puget Sound Educational Service District.

Register for the free event here.

 

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Transportation top concern of region’s voters

A new survey of 1,500 voters reports that transportation is by far the most important problem facing the region.

Transportation was volunteered by 47 percent of voters as "the most important problem" facing the region.

Transportation was volunteered by 47 percent of voters as “the most important problem” facing the region.

Seventy-nine percent say traffic congestion on roads they use is a serious or critical problem.

Sixty percent say a lack of transportation alternatives is a serious or critical problem.

Fifty-one percent say the region is losing ground when it comes to transportation.

Ninety-five percent say it’s important for the State Legislature and the Governor to do something to address transportation this year.

The survey was presented to the PSRC Executive Board today.

Voters within King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties were interviewed January 27th through February 4th.

The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4%.

Transportation funding proposals have moved through committees in the state House and the state Senate.

A package of reforms and funding could be considered on the Senate floor as early as tomorrow.


Central Issaquah could become region’s newest growth center

Issaquah is asking PSRC to designate its Central Issaquah Urban Core as a regional growth center.

The city is seeking to increase development in its commercial core and preserve nearby natural areas.

Issaquah is seeking to channel new housing and jobs to its commercial core while integrating natural features such as parks, creeks and views.

The designation could support the city’s Central Issaquah Plan, which calls for big changes to the city’s commercial core along the I-90 corridor.

Today Central Issaquah is characterized by lower density strip malls, office buildings and parking lots, with 75 percent of the area used for parking, according to the city.

The city envisions transforming Central Issaquah into a vibrant urban center with new housing and jobs, more parks and open space, and better transportation connections for biking, walking and transit.

PSRC received the city’s official application for regional center designation on January 30.  The next steps are discussions by the Growth Management Policy Board and Executive Board this spring.  Final action on designation of the Issaquah center is scheduled for June.

The region currently has 28 regional growth centers in all.  VISION 2040’s growth strategy calls for a significant share of new jobs and housing to focus in centers that are connected by major transportation corridors and high capacity transit.

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State transportation package clears Senate committee

Some veteran lobbyists have been saying the state is closer to getting comprehensive new transportation investments than it has been for over a decade.

ChairmanKing

Senator Curtis King of Yakima is leading the effort in the state Senate to better meet the state’s transportation needs. TVW

It got even closer late yesterday when the Senate Transportation Committee approved a package of legislation that was announced a week ago.

The package includes eleven bills (SB 5987-97).  They all moved out of committee – with a few amendments.

The action was boosted by a public hearing earlier in the week on three funding bills:  85 people signed up to testify, most of them urging action on the package.

The package provides funding to priority transportation projects and programs throughout the state.

It includes a phased in fuel tax increase and many fee increases, and includes new authority to meet local and regional needs, including Sound Transit 3.

Action by the Rules Committee to move the package to the Senate floor is the next big move, with more amendments expected.  (A couple of the policy bills have been referred Ways and Means.)

Governor Inslee proposed a different route to meeting transportation needs late last year and has referred to the Senate package as a “strong start.”   His funding proposal moved out of the House Environment Committee earlier this month.

The state House passed a comprehensive package two years ago. House leaders have been encouraging action by the Senate and this week indicated that action by the House on transportation would need to wait on education funding.


Task force to examine region’s transportation future

The central Puget Sound region’s long-term transportation needs and funding are undergoing a review by a task force that is broadly representative of civic leaders from King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties.

You find out more about Transportation Futures at thefuturestaskforce.org

You can find out more about Transportation Futures at thefuturestaskforce.org

The year-long assessment will examine leading demographic, land use, economic, technology and financial trends in transportation and make recommendations on how to best meet long-term transportation needs

“This region is at a critical crossroads.  Five million people are projected to be living in the four county region within the next 25 years, maybe sooner.  We must invest in our transportation system. It’s not just about mobility, it is also about our economy and our quality of life,” said Troy McClelland, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance Snohomish County and a task force member.

Task force member and Futurewise Executive Director Hilary Franz added:  “Investments in improving roadways, bridges and high-capacity transit are already being outstripped by demand.  We’re just not keeping up.  Traditional revenue sources are no longer capable of maintaining or improving mobility in our growing region.”

“The task force goal is to develop a strategy to provide an equitable, financially sustainable, and environmentally responsible regional transportation system that works for people and business,” said task force member and Puget Sound Energy CEO Kimberly Harris.

Over the next year, the task force will meet monthly, review data and technical studies that have been produced for them, reach out to stakeholders, gather public input and develop recommendations for the next 30 years and beyond.

The first meeting of the task force is scheduled for February 25, 2015, at 4 p.m., in the Boardroom of the Puget Sound Regional Council at 1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle, Washington, 98104.

Information about the task force and its work is available at thefuturestaskforce.org.

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Region to explore federal grant for biking and walking projects

PSRC is working on a regionally coordinated effort to apply for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding through the federal TIGER grant program.

bike-bridge

The region is exploring a federal grant that could fund bike and walking infrastructure.

On Thursday the Transportation Policy Board recommended that PSRC staff support the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee in developing a regionally coordinated application for 2015 TIGER funds. 

The Executive Board is scheduled to take action on the recommendation on February 26.

The TIGER program encourages multimodal, multi-jurisdictional projects that facilitate innovation, partnerships, safety, environmental sustainability and that better connect communities, particularly in economically distressed areas.

The goal is to pull together a group of projects that demonstrate cohesiveness and compete well based on the TIGER criteria.  You can find out more details here.

Nationwide, TIGER has funded six similar types of projects for bicycle and pedestrian networks, one of which was to a regional planning organization (East Bay Regional Parks district – SF Bay Area). Several were multi-jurisdictional and multi-county.

You can watch the meeting video here (discussion of the grant starts at about 1:23), or read a summary of board actions.

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Is traffic really as bad as it seems?

Short answer:  Yes. 

Recent data confirms that the region’s transportation system is showing signs of significant stress.

everett-seattle-I5chart

In just one year (2013 to 2014), delay on I-5 from Everett to Seattle increased 28%.

The region’s population is growing and jobs are growing even faster. The region has added 167,000 jobs and 144,000 people since 2010.

Between 2010 and 2014, there was an 84% increase in delay on I-5 between Everett and  Seattle.

Major hot spots include the I-90 interchange and the stretch between NE 65th St. and Seneca St.

Other areas with significant delay include the US 2 Interchange in Everett and 145th St. in Seattle.

Travel times in the HOV lanes increased by over 25% during the AM peak and over 17% in the PM peak between 2013 and 2014.

HOV-travel

Travel times in the HOV lanes are increasing.

Car travel is flat but transit ridership is growing. There were 17 million more transit boardings in 2014 than 2010 (an 11% increase).

More data on congestion and delay will be presented at the next Transportation Policy Board meeting in March.

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