Region takes another step towards Eastside light rail

Two East Link light rail projects have cleared environmental, financial and planning requirements to move forward.

East Link is expected to have 50,000 daily riders by 2030.

East Link is expected to have 50,000 daily riders by 2030.

“This is a great day for the region to take another step in finally connecting the Eastside to the light rail system. A big part of the job and population growth in the region will take place on the Eastside, and East Link is an extremely important piece of how we’re going to support the jobs and people headed our way,” said Redmond Mayor John Marchione, President of the Puget Sound Regional Council. 

PSRC’s Executive Board authorized the change in Transportation 2040 project status for Sound Transit East Link Light Rail Extension and Bellevue Way HOV Lanes and Transit Priority.

The board was briefed on the just enacted 2015 state transportation package that could result in an estimated $26 billion in transportation improvements within the region.

About $1.2 billion in funding could be at risk according to a staff analysis by PSRC.  Should the state proceed with enforcement of a new cleaner fuel standard, funds collected for about $1.2 billion in transit, freight, school safety, rail, special needs and other transportation programs would be transferred to a fund restricted for highway purposes starting July 1, 2016.

It is unclear when Governor Jay Inslee will make what he’s called, “a tough decision.”

The board also approved $3 million in funding for Rural Town Centers and Corridors projects and conferred on the results of the 2014 Puget Sound Regional Travel Study.




Region beats project delivery target early – captures federal funds

Local jurisdictions in the region are meeting and beating goals for delivering transportation projects with federal funds.


The region beat its project delivery target a month early – securing federal transportation funds and opening the door for more.

By the end of June, jurisdictions had delivered on 106 percent of the regional goal, about $4 million beyond the $70.7 million target.

Meeting delivery targets for Federal Highway Administration funds ensures that the funds are being put to good use, ensures that the region keeps all available funds and  keeps the region in the running for additional funds other states can’t obligate.

Over the years, the state of Washington has received hundreds of millions in additional federal “obligation authority” by always meeting the target.

This year is proving to be among the best ever for project delivery.

Local governments across the state are on track to meet the target well before the August 1st cut-off.

This sets the state up to receive additional obligation authority at the end of the federal fiscal year.

Local governments can expect to receive 34 percent of any additional authority.

The Regional Project Evaluation Committee saw the outstanding regional effort coming – earlier this year it opted out of recommending that PSRC ready additional projects to ensure delivery, for the first time ever.

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$3 million for rural transportation projects

Buckley, South Prairie, Eatonville, Duvall, Kingston and Stanwood are all places that could benefit from PSRC funding this month.

A series of improvements to SR 203 to function as a main street in Duvall are the flagship project of the Rural Town Centers and Corridors program.

SR 203 in Duvall is among the projects proposed for funding.

Funding awards are being proposed for five projects that would make it easier to get around and give a boost to economic development.

Pierce County would extend the existing the Foothills Trail between Buckley and  South Prairie by adding an additional 1.3-mile segment. ($378,000)

Eatonville’s project would improve the intersection at SR 161 and Center Street by constructing  a new traffic signal, crosswalks, and better access for people with disabilities. ($769,927)

In Duvall, the city is seeking to rebuild SR 203 to add bike lanes and sidewalks along with new utilities, lighting and streetscape improvements. ($1,052,073)

Kitsap County is planning to construct pedestrian and bicycle facilities on Washington Boulevard in Kingston, along with better lighting and storm water facilities.  ($450,000)

Stanwood’s project would provide right of way funding to extend 90th Avenue NW from 271st Street NW to SR 532 and install drainage, street lighting, sidewalks and planter strips. ($350,000)

The funding comes from PSRC’s Rural Town Centers and Corridors Program, which supports transportation projects in smaller towns and cities in rural areas of the region.

Five other projects are on a contingency list, should more funding become available before the next funding round in 2016:

Pierce County’s Olson Drive KPN/92 Street KPN, Key Center Sidewalks ($243,390)
Sultan’s 5th Street Reconstruction ($223,888)
Snohomish’s 30th Street Widening Project ($567,000)
Snoqualmie’s Kimball Creek Box Culverts ($1,704,660)
King County’s Safety Improvements on Woodinville Duvall Road ($723,643)

PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board will release the projects for public comment on June 11. Final action on the funding is set for July 23.   You can see what else is on the agenda here.

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Funding approved for special needs transportation

Today the Executive Board approved 20 projects that help people with disabilities, older adults, youth, and people with low incomes get around more easily.

Key Peninsula School Bus Connects project received a grant to use school buses when students were not being transported, service began in November 2011. Community transportation was offered free of charge and targeted underserved populations including seniors, youth, veterans and those with special needs or low income.

The Key Peninsula School Bus Connects project received $150,000 to sustain and extend service connecting the Key Peninsula to transportation options at the Purdy Park and Ride. (Photo credit: Key Peninsula News)

The projects will receive $7.6 million from PSRC and the Washington State Department of Transportation’s coordinated grant programs.  See the full list of projects here.

Among the projects moving forward:

Northshore Senior Center will replace two aging, ADA-accessible minibuses and continue existing transportation service to seniors and people with disabilities in south Snohomish County and north King County.  The service crosses county and transit agency boundaries, providing seamless trips for riders.

Beyond the Borders is continuing its Pierce County Community Connections transportation service for special needs populations living outside of the Pierce Transit service area.  Beyond the Borders provides service to areas of Pierce County where transportation services are unavailable or insufficient to meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities.  

Mobility Management: Hopelink received two grants for short-range planning and management activities and improving coordination among transportation providers.  One of the grants will help develop a coordinated emergency response that addresses vulnerable populations. Hopelink serves people living in north and east King County.

The board also approved a contingency list of projects in the event more funding becomes available before the next grant round in summer 2016.


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$3 million available for Rural Town Centers and Corridors

Know of a good transportation project in the rural area? PSRC is inviting agencies with eligible projects to submit applications for the $3 million in funding available through its Rural Town Centers and Corridors program.

A series of improvements to SR 203 to function as a main street in Duvall are the flagship project of the Rural Town Centers and Corridors program.

A series of improvements to SR 203 to better function as a main street in Duvall are the flagship project of the Rural Town Centers and Corridors program.

This program was established to recognize and support the needs of the region’s rural areas.

PSRC has funded projects like the realignment of SR 165 to a T intersection with SR 410 in Buckley, Kingston’s Complete Streets & SR 104 Corridor Planning Study, Town Center Infrastructure Improvements in Snoqualmie, and Snohomish’s 30th Street Widening with the Rural Town Centers and Corridors program.

In 2015, the program will use a collaborative countywide and regional approach with a two-stage application process.

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

Applications are due at 12:00 noon on Monday, March 9, 2015.


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Transportation project delivery on track

Thanks to the region’s project tracking program, the region has already delivered on 17% of its 2015 target as of January.

The region is on track to meet its 2015 delivery target.

The region is on track to meet its 2015 delivery target.

The federal transportation funding that PSRC distributes requires that certain delivery targets and timelines are met or the funds will be distributed to other regions.

A key goal for 2015 is for projects to secure $71 million in federal highway dollars by this summer. Nearly $12 million in PSRC funds have already been obligated for the year.

The initial deadline for delivery each year is August 1st, to ensure full delivery by the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30th.

PSRC staff is here to help its members obligate these funds quickly.   When our jurisdictions meet that deadline, we’ll be in a position to fund more projects in our region from places that don’t meet their deadline.

PSRC has new tracking procedures to help the region succeed in maximizing federal funds and earning a fair advantage for the region.

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Revisions to PSRC’s project tracking policies on tap

The federal transportation funding that PSRC distributes to projects around the region requires certain delivery targets and timelines are met or the funds will be distributed to other regions. PSRC’s project tracking program helps the region meet these goals.

 State of Good Repair is the highest priority in the region’s long-range transportation plan, Transportation 2040.

Project tracking helps the region make efficient use of its federal funds.

In 2014, the region came close to losing some of its funding due to unmet obligation dates. As such, the Regional Project Evaluation Committee reviewed the policies to find ways to strengthen the program.

The revisions include additional outreach to project sponsors and clearer timelines related to all stages of the funding process, including how extensions and supplemental funding requests will be handled.

The Transportation Policy Board is set to act on the revised tracking policies at its meeting on January 8.

See the full agenda here or watch the meeting live on Thursday at 9:30 am here.