In 2015, region grew by 7 people per hour

In 2015, the region had its strongest population growth in a decade and its strongest job growth since 1997.

The region has shown it's strongest growth in a decade, or nearly two for jobs.

The region has shown its strongest growth in a decade, or nearly two for jobs.

That’s 63,000 people and 76,000 jobs in the last year. Or 7 people and 9 jobs per hour.

These are just a few highlights from the Growth Management Policy Board’s upcoming exploration of growth in the region.

PSRC staff has begun to compile fresh data on growth in the region and will begin presenting it at the board’s meeting on February 4, 2016.

Also on tap for that date is discussion on the Regional Centers Framework and 2016 policy board work program, as well as action on recommending certification of Comprehensive Plans for Everett, Lake Forest Park, Mill Creek, Monroe, Seattle, Snohomish County, Tacoma, University Place and Woodinville.

See the full agenda and watch the meeting here.

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Manufacturing gets boost from public-private partnership

A pilot project sparked by the Manufacturing Communities partnership is helping to create jobs in the region.

Governor Insleee...

Governor Jay Inslee and Lake Forest Park Deputy Mayor Catherine Stanford tour Jorgensen Forge.

This week Governor Jay Inslee, Puget Sound Regional Council and Impact Washington rolled out results of a pilot project that will save over $1 million annually for six defense manufacturers and will result in a total of 70 more jobs in one company alone.

The pilot tested whether the NextGen LEAN program could help small- and medium-size manufacturers bring costs down and cut production time so they can compete in the global marketplace.

“It worked! We added 20 jobs in the last 6 months since we began the NextGen LEAN process, and are hiring 10 to 15 more now. We expect to add a total of 50 more jobs in 2016,” Jorgensen Forge President Mike Jewell said.

Governor Jay Inslee and PSRC Economic Development District Board Vice President Catherine Stanford took a tour of the manufacturing facility this week.

“A key part of our Regional Economic Strategy is to grow jobs, and growing 70 new family-wage jobs in one company alone is a huge win,” said Stanford.  “The NextGen LEAN pilot is a stellar example of how public-private partnerships can make a difference to our regional economy.”

The pilot is part of Washington state’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership designation.

PSRC administers the designation, which has helped bring in over $23 million for manufacturing-related programs and projects throughout the state, including $500,000 for this pilot project.

The pilot is funded by a federal grant awarded to the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Washington Military Alliance. Impact Washington, which serves as the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, implemented the pilot.

Jorgensen Forge is located in Tukwila and manufactures precision-machined products for diverse industries.

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Diversity in the region: 33.6% minority

The region’s 2016 Environmental Justice Demographic Profile shows the total minority population was 1,318,068 in 2014, according to the American Community Survey. That is 33.6% of the total population in the region.

The orange shades show higher populations of minority households.

The orange shades show higher populations of minority households.

Residents who identify as Asian or Pacific Islander represent about one third of the total minority population in the region.

The profile was updated in preparation for the Operations Committee‘s review of the agency’s Title VI Plan.

Title VI is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or language spoken in programs receiving federal assistance. The demographic profile also looks at poverty and household access to vehicles.

In addition to the new demographic data, PSRC’s draft 2016 Title VI Plan shows new translation services being offered, expanded public outreach techniques on social media, and changes to staff roles.

The Operations Committee is subgroup of PSRC’s Executive Board that reviews the budget and work program, contracts and other financial and personnel issues. It’s led by Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and will meet Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 9:30 am.

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Light Rail to UW debuts March 19

The highly anticipated extension of Sound Transit’s Central Link will begin service on March 19, 2016 at 10 am.

The new station at Husky Stadium is underground and features direct connections to the campus, UW Medical Center, Burke Gilman Trail and the surrounding neighborhood.

The new station at Husky Stadium is underground and features direct connections to the campus, UW Medical Center, Burke Gilman Trail and the surrounding neighborhood.

That is six months ahead of schedule and more than $150 million under budget.

University Link will add two stations to the current line, one on Capitol Hill at Broadway and John Street and the other at Husky Stadium.

Riders will be able to take the same train from the University of Washington through downtown and all the way to Sea-Tac airport in 46 minutes.

King County Metro is planning a major restructure of bus routes in Northeast Seattle to serve the University of Washington Station and improve connections.

Sound Transit will be hosting a launch day party at both of the new stations. A tailgate at Husky Stadium and a street festival on Capitol Hill. Find out more here.

PSRC will be hosting its annual General Assembly  on March 31, at noon, at the Don James Center at Husky Stadium, in anticipation of the new light rail service.


West approach to 520 bridge fully funded

The Executive Board is poised to take an action that would allow the SR 520, I-5 to Floating Bridge project to move forward.

Connecting Washington funded the remaining portions of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement.

Connecting Washington funded the remaining portions of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement.

That action is to confirm the project meets all federal, state and local requirements and add it to the Regional Transportation Improvement Program. The Washington State Department of Transportation is scheduled to present the $4.56 billion project to the board at its meeting on January 28, 2016.

Connecting Washington, the recent transportation package adopted by the Legislature, will provide the final $1.64 billion needed for the west approach to the new bridge and fully fund the project.

PSRC began funding the project with the original Trans-Lake Study in 1997.

The floating bridge is scheduled to open this April and a community celebration is planned for the weekend of April 2. WSDOT will be working closely with the City of Seattle as the construction begins for the I-5 to the bridge portion in 2018.

See the full Executive Board agenda or watch the meeting here.


Local leaders make regional connections

More than 40 new councilmembers and mayors from all corners of the region joined in a workshop for newly elected officials this week.

Josh Brown, PSRC's executive director, facilitates the discussion.

Josh Brown, PSRC’s executive director, facilitated the workshop.

Auburn, Arlington, Des Moines, Milton, Issaquah, Bothell, Port Orchard, Shoreline, and Puyallup were among 30 cities represented.

The new officials shared why they ran for office.  For a few, this was the first time dipping their toes into politics. Others were previously active on school boards, planning commissions, or were activists in their communities.  Many were asked by others to run – and decided they couldn’t say no.

In small group discussions, the new leaders identified the most important regional issues in their communities.

Not surprisingly, transportation was mentioned by all groups, and some smaller communities expressed need for better transit access.

Other top concerns:  affordable housing, homelessness and maintenance of infrastructure.

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A panel of regional leaders — Executive Dow Constantine, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and Everett Councilmember Paul Roberts — offered advice and answered questions from the new officials.

The workshop was co-sponsored by Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and Sound Transit.  Briefing materials and presentations are available online.

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$7.7 million more for transit

Transit riders in the region will benefit from extra funding from the Federal Transit Administration for more than 20 projects.

The city of Seattle received funding to electrify route 48 as part of its 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements project.

Funding is being proposed to help the City of Seattle electrify route 48 as part of its 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements project.

The region’s transit agencies receive funds from the FTA based on a formula that considers service and operating characteristics. In general, the more passengers a transit agency serves, the more funding they are eligible for.

The exact funding amount is fine-tuned on an annual basis. This year’s adjustment means an additional $7.7 million for the region. Some of the projects recommended for funding include:

• $1 million for electrifying part of Route 48 in Seattle – converting the route from diesel to electric trolley bus between Cherry and John streets

• $370,398 for Kitsap Transit bus purchases

• $2,745,796 to Intercity Transit for coach and vanpool purchases and operations. Intercity Transit provides commuter service to the region.

• $325,843 for remodeling Skagit Transit’s maintenance facility. Skagit Transit is eligible for PSRC funding because of the commuter services it provides to the region. Since this is a newly proposed project, PSRC is inviting public comment on the funding recommendation.

The Transportation Policy Board made the recommendation to approve the funding at its meeting today. The Executive Board will take final action on January 28.

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