Elaine Chao confirmed as new U.S. Transportation Secretary

The Senate confirmed Elaine Chao as the next Secretary of Transportation today.

Elaine Chao is the new Secretary of Transportation.

“As I begin my first day as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, I want to thank all of you– the department’s career professionals– for making the transition to new leadership a smooth one, and for welcoming us to the Department,” said Secretary Chao in an email to all transportation staff. “As many of you may know, this will be my third time serving in the U.S. Department of Transportation.  I look forward to working with you once again to ensure that the safety and efficiency of our country’s transportation systems are second to none.  Many thanks again.”

Secretary Chao brings extensive experience in federal government to her new role. She served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001-2009 under President George W. Bush–the first American woman of Asian descent appointed to a President’s Cabinet.

Previously, Chao served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation from 1989 to 1991, and Director of the Peace Corps from 1991 to 1992. Chao also worked for four years as President and CEO of United Way of America, and as a Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Born in Taiwan, Chao immigrated to the U.S. when she was 8. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College.

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Path to full plan certification for six small cities

The Executive Board has unanimously approved an alternative path to fully certify the comprehensive plans for six small cities.

Gig Harbor is one of the six small cities that will have an alternative way to receive full plan certification.

This new option allows full plan certification if the cities make a commitment to completing a number of steps that support VISION 2040.

Last year the plans for Bonney Lake, Carnation, Covington, Gig Harbor, North Bend and Snoqualmie received conditional certification from PSRC because the cities’ plans anticipate growth substantially above adopted countywide growth targets for housing and jobs.

The Growth Management Policy Board reviewed the conditional certifications this fall and made a recommendation for creating a path to certification.

Specifically, the cities would be asked to adopt a city council commitment to:

  • Acknowledge the planned housing and employment growth anticipated in the small city’s adopted comprehensive plan is greater than adopted growth targets for the city and acknowledge the importance of managing that growth and mitigating its impacts, including on surrounding communities, rural and resource lands, and the regional transportation system.
  • Continue to work collaboratively with regional and countywide planning organizations on growth allocations during the next and future target updates and commit to planning for growth in future plan updates consistent with those collaboratively set and adopted target updates.
  • Identify and continue strategies cities are using to manage and mitigate the impacts of growth.
  • Reinforce the city’s commitment to managing its growth within current city and Urban Growth Area boundaries while minimizing impacts on surrounding rural and resource lands; commit to using the adopted countywide criteria for evaluating any requested UGA modifications.
  • Commit to prioritize consistency with the Regional Growth Strategy when considering future land use and zoning changes and capital facilities investments.

You can watch the presentation and discussion here starting at about 39:30.



Special needs project list approved

The Executive Board has approved a list of special needs transportation projects that will become eligible to receive funding through PSRC’s Coordinated Grant Program and the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Grant Program.

Special needs transportation project list approved by PSRC, will move on to Coordinated Grant Program at WSDOT to be finalized in spring 2017.

Special needs projects provide transportation services to seniors, people with disabilities, and others who have mobility challenges due to age or income to help them get to medical appointments, educational opportunities, jobs, shopping and social interactions.

The list includes 14 projects recommended to receive $4.2 million in funding. There are also 20 projects recommended to receive regional priority rankings for the statewide WSDOT Consolidated Grant competition.

Example projects and the amounts recommended include:

  • Mobility Management King County, Hopelink, $513,056
  • Beyond the Borders, Pierce County Community Connections, $989,262
  • Sustain Community Shuttles for Seniors and People with Disabilities in King County, City of Seattle Aging and Disability Services Division, $490,911

Final decision on awards for projects on the list will be determined after WSDOT Consolidated Grant awards in the spring of 2017.

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New member joins Snohomish County Council

By unanimous vote, Nate Nehring was selected to fill the District 1 position on the Snohomish County Council formerly held by Ken Klein.

New Snohomish County Councilmember Nate Nehring was sworn in on Monday.

District 1 encompasses north Snohomish County, including the cities of Arlington, Darrington, Marysville, and Stanwood.

Nehring was born and raised in Marysville and currently lives in Stanwood. He has served as a Stanwood Planning Commissioner for the past year and is a science teacher at Cedarcrest Middle School.

At 21 years old, he is the youngest person ever to serve on the Snohomish County Council.

“We are grateful to have had three outstanding candidates to interview for this appointment,” said Council Chair Brian Sullivan in a news release. “Nate is very passionate about public service and will be a great addition to the council.”


Public-public partnership to operate fast ferry

Kitsap Transit announced this week that it will contract with King County Marine Division to operate its upcoming passenger-only ferry service between Kitsap County and Seattle.

King County Marine Division will begin operating the Rich Passage 1 with service to Bremerton in July 2017.

Kitsap voters approved the new ferry service in November. The 28 minute ferry from Bremerton is scheduled to set sail in July 2017. Kingston and Southworth will follow in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

King County will operate and maintain all three services in an agreement scheduled to be finalized in the spring.

“King County Marine Division has demonstrated its expertise through its operation of the King County Water Taxi and has the marine infrastructure to support passenger-only ferry services,” said Port Orchard Mayor Robert Putaansuu. “With a strong operating partner, Kitsap Transit can continue to deliver reliable service to our commuter base and usher in a new chapter for inter-county transit in Kitsap County.”

To fully implement the fast ferry plan, Kitsap Transit will put out a request for bids in the spring to design and build bow-loading vessels that can pull directly into the same slips used by Washington State Ferries.

Joint operations will ensure that King County’s existing services will work seamlessly with the new service and both will coordinate with the upgrades underway at Coleman Dock.



$3 million available for rural transportation projects

It’s time to apply for Rural Town Centers and Corridor funds!

In 2015, Duvall received $1 million in construction funds for SR 203 safety improvements.

The program helps support the needs of the region’s rural areas. It is a two-stage process, beginning with each of the four countywide organizations selecting three projects to compete in the regional competition.

The first stage takes place at the countywide level where each countywide forum reviews the projects of parties interested in seeking RTCC funding and recommends three priority projects to compete in the regional competition.

Information on eligibility, deadlines, etc. may be found on PSRC’s website.

Recommended projects will be reviewed by PSRC in April and released for public comment in May.

For more information, contact Jeff Storrar at 206-587-4817.

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Region’s population and job forecasts will look to 2050

What will the region be like in 2050 when today’s kindergartners are 30 something?

Current forecasts through 2040 predict the region will grow to 4.9 million people, about 900,000 more than today. Total regional employment is expected to increase to over 2.9 million jobs.

PSRC’s forecasts look ahead decades to anticipate growth and change.

To help with long-range planning, PSRC is getting started on extending a key population and employment forecast another decade to 2050.

This work is needed to develop a new long-range forecast to support an update of the region’s growth plan, VISION 2040.

The forecast provides annual projections of total households, persons, jobs, and other economic and demographic variables through the year 2040, at the regional scale. It is an input into PSRC’s land use model (UrbanSim).

Current forecasts through 2040 suggest the region will grow to 4.9 million people, about 900,000 more than today. Total regional employment is expected to increase to over 2.9 million jobs.

Later this month the Executive Board will decide on approval to move ahead with the forecast.

If the Executive Board approves the contract, work will start right away, with a new forecast available in early 2018.