Subcommittee tasked with developing a “sub-regional” transportation alternative

Redmond Mayor and PSRC Vice President John Marchione told the Transportation Policy Board yesterday that his number one transportation priority in 2015 is a new comprehensive statewide package.

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Redmond Mayor John Marchione advocates for statewide transportation investments 2015 – and a “sub-regional” approach should state leaders fall short

He called on the PSRC to develop a more detailed and balanced regional transportation request to the 2015 state legislature to show “how it all comes together.”

And he noted that frustration about the legislature’s inability to produce a statewide package last year, combined with doubts about progress next year, is driving consideration of a “sub-regional” alternative.

His pitch was greeted with head nods around the table.

Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci, who chairs the Board, proposed a subcommittee to develop “what a sub-regional package might look like.”

Balducci noted that the regional alternative is necessary if state leaders can’t find common ground on a statewide package.

The subcommittee is expected to be assembled quickly.

The Transportation Policy Board will spend its next two meetings working on recommendations to the legislature for the Executive Board to take up on January 22nd.

You can watch yesterday’s meeting here.

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“Critical level of frustration” on state transportation funding spurs regional focus

The PSRC’s Executive Board has directed the agency to support preparation of a potential Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in 2016.

Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci

Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci says the region needs “a plan C or D” if the state legislature can’t find new funding for transportation

The Board also tasked the Transportation Policy Board with developing a recommendation on a potential regional alternative to a comprehensive statewide transportation package, should the state legislature fall short again in 2015.

Noting a “critical level of frustration on transportation funding,” Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci said “the region needs to be prepared if the state won’t move on transportation.”

“We’re getting to a crisis in Snohomish County,” said Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who emphasized light rail’s importance to the future of the state largest manufacturing center – centered at Boeing’s growing assembly plants at Paine Field.

“We need to move ST3 to a vote in 2016,” Stephanson said.

Later yesterday, Sound Transit’s board held a workshop to consider next steps toward a 2016 ballot measure.

Over the next two months Sound Transit will make key decisions on moving toward a 2016 ballot, which would require new tools approved by the state legislature to proceed.

The PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board, led by Mayor Balducci, will begin consideration of next steps for the 2015 legislature on November 13th.

You can watch yesterday’s PSRC Executive Board meeting here.

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New grant opportunity, take advantage of region’s preferred sustainability status

Looking for funding for your community? The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new grant program  for community assistance to build resilience and pursue revitalization.

Use the region's preferred sustainability status to get a grant for your community!

Use the region’s preferred sustainability status to get a grant for your community!

EPA is offering this technical assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program  to help communities across the country, including underserved communities, small cities and rural areas, adopt sustainable growth strategies.

The program aims to increase resilience to natural disasters and strengthen the economy while protecting human health and the environment. It provides quick, targeted technical assistance to communities using tools with demonstrated results and widespread application.

Through the Growing Transit Communities Partnership, the central Puget Sound region is designated as a preferred sustainable community for this grant program, which means applications from the region will receive extra consideration.

Applications will be accepted until November 20, 2014. EPA will host a webinar to discuss the program and the application process on Thursday, October 30, 2014, from 1 to 2 p.m. PDT.

Communities may apply for assistance on one or more of the following topics:

  • Equitable development
  • Infill development for distressed cities
  • Bikeshare planning
  • Sustainable strategies for small cities and rural areas
  • Flood resilience for riverine and coastal communities

EPA will select up to 25 communities through a competitive process.

Selections will be made in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

If selected, the community will work with an EPA-supported team of experts during a one-to-two-day workshop, where participants will learn about relevant strategies, policies, and practices.

Organizations seeking grants for special needs transportation

Transportation services for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities are among the programs applying for PSRC’s special needs funding.

Northshore Senior Center provides transportation to medical appointments and other services for seniors.

Northshore Senior Center provides seniors with transportation to medical appointments and other services.

For a disabled veteran needing to get to a doctor’s appointment or a frail senior needing a ride to the grocery store, community transportation services are sometimes the only option to get where they need to go.

In the current round of funding, PSRC received 24 applications, seeking a total of $11.1 million.  About $4.4 million is available, with some additional funding anticipated from returned funds from past years.

As part of the project selection process, PSRC also provides regional rankings for projects seeking special needs and rural transportation funding through the Washington State Department of Transportation’s  2015-2017 Consolidated Grant program.

In November, the Special Needs Transportation Committee and Transportation Operators Committee will meet to review the applications and make recommendations.

On December 11, the Transportation Policy Board is scheduled to release the recommended projects for public comment.  The policy board will make a final recommendation for action by the Executive Board at their January 2015 meeting.

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Pronto! New bicycle share program launches

Keep an eye out for the shiny new green bikes around Seattle. They are part of a new bicycle sharing program that launched this week.

Pronto's website includes a map that shows where bikes are available.

Pronto’s website includes a map that shows where bikes are available.

Pronto! is a network of 500 bikes at 50 stations located throughout Seattle. Pronto bikes are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Each station has a touchscreen kiosk, station map, helmet vending machine, and a docking system that releases bikes using a member key or ride code.

Try it for the day for $8, 3 days for $16 or $85 for the year.

PSRC funded $1 million to King County for the pilot effort that launched this project.

The number one goal of the region’s Active Transportation Plan is to increase the number and frequency of people choosing active transportation in the region.  Bike sharing encourages people to use an active mode of transportation and increases the options available for transportation.



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New map shows where transportation projects are in the region

PSRC has put together a new web-based map of the $4.8 billion in total transportation investments that are up for public comment as part of the Regional Transportation Improvement Program.

The map includes detailed project descriptions, funding sources, and information about where these projects are located in terms of congestion, concentration of poverty, and land uses.

The map includes detailed project descriptions, funding sources, and information about where these projects are located in terms of congestion, concentrations of poverty, and land uses.

The projects are funded with federal, state, or local funds, including the nearly $700 million in funds awarded and managed through PSRC’s project selection process.

Hundreds of transportation improvements – bridge repairs, new light rail extensions, bus service, pavement preservation, sidewalks and more – will be underway through 2018 around the region.

Not all of the 253 projects listed in the Regional Transportation Improvement Program can be mapped. Bus replacements, safety improvement programs, and emissions reductions projects can be viewed here.

The public comment period will run through October 30, 2014. PSRC’s Executive Board is scheduled to approve the final 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program on October 30.

How to make a comment:
Mail: Puget Sound Regional Council
ATTN: Kelly McGourty
1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500
Seattle, Washington 98104-1035
In Person: October 9 or October 30 at PSRC offices, 1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle

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Darrington completes key school project

Just after school broke for lunch yesterday the Town of Darrington cut the ribbon on a new street just out front.

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Whitehorse Mountain looms big over ribbon cutting for Darrington’s new Fir Street.

The town’s new Fir Street has sidewalks and drainage and will make for a much safer route to school.

The project wound up being completed on time even after the town was overwhelmed by the Oso landslide in March.

The state’s Transportation Improvement Board took emergency action to fully fund the project and keep it on track.

Mayor Dan Rankin said yesterday that recreational businesses hit pre-recession levels this past summer.

He credited a state funded ad campaign with keeping people coming through despite major reconstruction of Highway 530.

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Sidewalks, drainage, striping and parking make Fir Street a safer route to school.

The state expects to complete work on the main route to Darrington by next month.

Streets around town were rehabbed the summer – with part of $5 million in emergency funding from the PSRC.

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