Addressing Rural Development Needs with Transportation Corridor Improvements

Over the past decade, the greater Seattle urban area in Washington State has made the notorious national “Top-10” annual list of urban areas having the worst traffic congestion in the country. With 3.4 million people living in this large four-county metropolitan region much of the past decade’s transportation focus has been on addressing major transportation problems in the core 1,000 square mile urban area. For the 86% of the region’s population living in the core urban area, this appears to be the right thing to do. But for the rest of the population living beyond the contiguous core urban area in the region’s other mostly rural 5,000 square miles (84% of its land area) people felt understandably left out. When the regional transportation plan, Destination 2030, was adopted in 2001, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the region, heard loud and clear concerns from its rural constituents (26 rural towns out of 82 total cities) that the region was neither recognizing nor adequately planning for the needs of rural towns and highways. The region acknowledged this imbalance in urban vs. rural attention and responded by authorizing and conducting a study called the Rural Centers and Corridors Project. After spending over a year conducting surveys and workshops in the rural areas and exploring options to address the nature of problems and issues for rural centers and corridors, in late 2003 the PSRC embraced recommendations from a consultant team and Project Advisory Committee and established a new Rural Town Centers and Corridors Program to accomplish the following objectives: Provide financial incentives and assistance to bring together rural town center, county and state rural highway corridor interests to jointly plan and implement much needed centers and corridors improvements; Provide technical communications and resources for innovative ideas and new approaches to coordinated planning and implementation in rural centers and corridors; and Enable updating and improving definitions and descriptions of rural town center development needs and highway corridor project needs and cost estimates to include in periodic updates of the regions transportation plan, Destination 2030. In February 2004, the PSRC’s Executive Board followed up on its fall action and put funding behind this new program, dedicating $2 million for fiscal years 2006 and 2007 from PSRC’s regionally managed federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds to support the rural program. The study consultant team also prepared a technical toolkit with examples of context sensitive solutions (CSS) and resources for rural areas. This toolkit and other relevant rural centers/corridors information is available on PSRC’S Rural pages of its website at http://www.psrc.org/proiects/rural/index.htm. An 11-month pilot study in the SR203 highway corridor was begun in early 2004 to test the new program recommendations. The SR203 highway is in a representative corridor running about 24 miles through two counties and four rural communities in an agricultural river valley area between the core urban area and the foothills of the Cascade Mountain range. This corridor brings diverse interests and challenges together, and the pilot study is to demonstrate how to prepare a comprehensive package of transportation and development projects with much higher prospects for future implementation action. The pilot study in the SR203 state highway corridor is well underway and is yielding positive results using context CSS to identify a carefully crafted set of projects for all jurisdictions along the corridor.

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 11p
  • Monograph Title: Tools of the Trade: 9th National Conference on Transportation Planning for Small and Medium-Sized Communities, September 22-24, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01043950
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Mar 9 2007 11:09AM