Freight, transit and ferry issues on State Transportation Commission’s July meeting agenda

OLYMPIA — Freight demands on the transportation system are the subject of several agenda items for the Washington State Transportation Commission’s meeting next week in Olympia.

Commissioners will also discuss the findings of ferry user surveys and hear updates on various Washington State Ferries issues.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. each day, Tuesday, July 15, and Wednesday, July 16, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.

The meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during the public comment period scheduled at the end of each day.

Utilities and Transportation Commission staff will start off Tuesday’s meeting with a briefing to explain the agency’s role in railroad crossing safety and other rail safety issues, followed by an update from the Union Pacific Railroad on rail capacity and improvements.

Rail topics continue on Tuesday afternoon with a report on potential rail traffic from coal and oil exports from a Montana-based rail consultant.

On Tuesday afternoon, the commission will hear perspectives from Sound Transit, King County Metro and Community Transit on current transit operations in the I-405 corridor and anticipated changes that might occur after express toll lanes begin operation next year.

The commission is interested in the progress toward significant new transit investments anticipated in the I-405 Master Plan and whether these investments are adequate in light of the corridor’s population and employment growth and the revenue challenges transit providers face.

The commission will discuss the findings from Ferry Riders’ Opinion Group (FROG) surveys on Tuesday afternoon. These surveys, conducted every two years, provide data to help inform the level of service, operational, pricing, planning, and investment decisions for the state ferry system.

The first round of 2014 surveys collected information on customer perceptions of ferry operations and performance, and perspectives of freight users. A separate Voice of Washington State (VOWS) survey gathered data on ferry usage and ridership from a statewide perspective.

On Wednesday morning, the commission will be briefed regarding the Draft Washington State Freight Mobility Plan, which includes recommendations on the state’s priority freight policies, operational and capital projects. In addition, the commission will hear briefings from Washington State Ferries’ staff on vessel construction, proposed terminal improvements, the long-range plan for the ferry system and an update on ferry revenues.

The commission also will discuss the naming process that will be followed for the next 144-car ferry currently under construction.  A name will need to be determined by November.

For more information about the commission and complete meeting agendas, visit:


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