Pierce Transit’s refreshed service begins March 12

After extensive outreach and an analysis of its existing service, Pierce Transit will debut a restructured, more efficient system plan on March 12, 2017.

Pierce Transit has completely restructured its route system in North Tacoma.

The new system delivers more direct routes with faster travel times and longer service hours.

Urban routes will offer 30 minute headways and service until 10 p.m.

The new system will include one new seasonal route: the Point Defiance Demonstration Trolley, which will connect people from downtown to the park as well as scenic spots along Ruston Way during the summer months.

Pierce Transit has also partnered with JBLM’s Go Transit to connect the SR-512 park and ride to the base.

All of this was accomplished through the re-routing of eight routes and the elimination of four. One bus will no longer have Saturday service.

Find out more at piercetransit.org!

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Ride to Remember Oso on March 19

The communities of Arlington and Darrington are hosting a bicycle ride and community event on March 19 to commemorate the third anniversary of  the Oso slide.

Sign up for the bicycle ride to remember Oso on March 19, 2017.

The ride will “remember those who were lost and affected by the slide, recognize how far our communities have come, by celebrating our resilience and the completion of Arlington and Darrington’s America’s Best Communities projects,” said Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert and Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin.

The towns have been competing in the America’s Best Communities program. As quarter finalists, they received $50,000 to develop a community revitalization plan.

Twelve economic revitalization projects were borne out of that plan and as the communities advanced to the finals, they received $100,000 to begin implementing them. To date this has included, place making improvements, community wi-fi hot spots and development of a youth council.

On April 19, the towns will find out if they have been awarded the grand prize of up to $3 million for first place, $2 million for second, or $1 million for third.

Congratulations, Arlington and Darrington on your success with this grant program and on coming together to rebuild after the tragic events of March 22, 2014.





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Region adds nearly 60,000 jobs in 2016

The central Puget Sound economy continues to grow at a fast pace. In 2016, the four-county region added 59,400 jobs — the seventh consecutive year of job growth.


During the last five years, job growth has been especially robust. The region added more jobs than during any five-year period since the early 1990s.

The region gained 270,900 jobs between 2011 and 2016, compared to loss of 21,700 jobs in the previous five-year period from 2006 to 2011.

All four central Puget Sound counties — King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap — gained new jobs, but most growth occurred in King and Snohomish counties, at an annual growth rate of 3.25%.


Services sector has highest job growth

The services sector, which includes jobs from information technology (IT), business services, and recreation and food services, experienced its highest annual growth rate (4.06%) since 2001.



Unemployment rate lowest in last decade

Regionwide the unemployment rate dropped by 17% in 2016, to 4.3% — the lowest unemployment rate in the last decade. King, Pierce and Snohomish counties all experienced reductions in unemployment rates over the past year. Kitsap County observed an increase in the unemployment rate from 5.4% to 5.7% in 2016.

For more data on regional employment, check out our latest issue of Puget Sound Trends.


Transit funding competition begins

PSRC has issued the call for projects for the Regional FTA Competition.

March 17 is the deadline to apply for the Regional FTA Funding Competition.

Roughly $32 million is available to transit agencies for projects in the region.

The regional competition selects a limited number of high priority regional transit projects that support centers and connecting corridors.

The funding process will be kicked off with a workshop at PSRC on February 14 at 10 am. A webinar option is available.

This is the final component of the overall 2016 project selection process for PSRC’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds.


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On pace to truly improve transportation in the region

For the first time in decades, funding for transportation investments is on track to meet the demands of a growing population and economy in the central Puget Sound region.

In addition to travel time savings, roadway investments will also enhance salmon recovery, address critical bridge needs, and finish projects in key corridors.

Even as the region grows by nearly a million more people by 2040, travel times by transit and car through major corridors are expected to improve over what exists today.

Those were a few of the takeaways from a presentation to the Transportation Policy Board this week showcasing funded investments coming online from 2010 through 2040 and what they will mean for the region’s commuters.

In the last two years alone, the previous Transportation 2040 plan budget shortfall was reduced by 25%, thanks to Connecting Washington, Sound Transit 3, Kitsap Transit’s Fast Ferry Plan, and other voter-approved local road and transit initiatives.

The presentation also highlighted bicycle and pedestrian projects built or funded from 2010 to 2040, including the Cross-Kirkland Corridor, Prairie Line Trail in Tacoma, Centennial Trail in Snohomish County, and the Bay Street Pedestrian Project in Port Orchard.

Transit investments will have big travel time benefits.

You can view the full presentation here or watch the discussion during the meeting (starting at about 38:00).

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Welcome to new PSRC board members

An enthusiastic new group of elected officials and community representatives has been appointed to serve on PSRC’s boards and help guide regional decision making on growth, transportation and economic development.

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier serves on the Executive Board.

Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County’s newly elected Executive, attended his first Executive Board meeting in January.

“I’m really glad to be part of this group and plan to be a very constructive member,” Dammeier told the board, adding that his predecessors John Ladenburg and Pat McCarthy both spoke highly of PSRC “and the important work that gets done here.”

On the Transportation Policy Board, new members include:  Pierce County Council Chair Doug Richardson, representing Pierce County; Dan McKisson, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 19, representing Business/Labor; and Trinity Parker, Sound Transit, representing the Transportation Operators Committee. Don Cairns moved from alternate to primary member, representing the Regional Project Evaluation Committee.

New alternates on the Transportation Policy Board include: Councilmember Connie Ladenburg, representing Pierce County; Councilmember Sam Low, representing Snohomish County; Orting Mayor Joe Pestinger, representing Other Cities & Towns in Pierce County; Russ Blount, representing the Regional Project Evaluation Committee; and John Persak, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 19, representing Business/Labor.

The Growth Management Policy Board welcomed Kelly Rider, Housing Development Consortium Seattle-King County, as a new member.

New alternates on the Growth Management Policy Board include: Gig Harbor Mayor Jill Guernsey, representing Other Cities and Towns in Pierce County; North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing, representing Sound Cities Association;  Marty Kooistra, Housing Development Consortium Seattle-King; Councilmember Jim McCune, representing Pierce County; and Dr. Susan Turner, Kitsap Public Health District, representing Community/Environment.

The Economic Development Board welcomed Erin Monroe, Workforce Snohomish, as a new member; and Elizabeth Court, Olympic Workforce Development Council, as an alternate.

On the Operations Committee, City of Orting Mayor Joe Pestinger moved from alternate to primary member, representing Other Cities and Towns in Pierce County.

Representatives to the boards are appointed by the local jurisdictions they represent.

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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