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PUBLICATION: "Moving Washington" - State Deptment of Transportation


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Moving Washington - A program to fight congestion

There is no single solution for traffic congestion, but experience has shown that we can reduce congestion by focusing on three key strategies; strategically adding road capacity, operating the system we have efficiently and providing choices that help manage transportation demands.

Moving Washington includes integrated corridor-specific plans to target the unique problems facing local areas.

View our slideshow for more on the corridor-specific plans for implementing Moving Washington.

Washington depends on mobility

Effective and efficient transportation is critical to maintaining our economy, environment and quality of life. Moving Washington is WSDOT's vision of investments and priorities for the next 10 years. It integrates new capacity, efficiency tools and commute options to address congestion head-on and improve the performance of our state's transportation system. The program's primary objective is mobility, one of the legislature's transportation priorities.

The transportation improvements identified in Moving Washington are necessary for us to continue enjoying all that our state has to offer. From the coastal rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula to the river gorges in the south and east, Washington is rich with landscapes and a diverse economy. We depend on a reliable trip to work, and we want to spend time with our families when our work is done. Agriculture, manufacturing, retail and tourism all rely on our transportation system.

Our vision for the future

To enhance our economic vitality and personal mobility while safeguarding the environment, Washington must continually improve our transportation system. A balanced, efficient and reliable transportation system can meet our increasing population needs and allow us to stay competitive in a global economy for the years to come.

Moving Washington provides the tools and the blueprints.

How could transportation look in 2020 with Moving Washington?

Travel times improve
 Rush-hour commuters can choose a reliable trip in free-flowing express lanes
 Fewer collisions mean fewer resulting backups
 Less idling in gridlock reduces greenhouse gas emissions and makes our streams and rivers cleaner
 Transit operates in free-flowing lanes with reliable buses that make connections to light rail and commuter rail
 Freight flows in and out of Washington ports and farm produce and other goods move rapidly across the state

Add Capacity Strategically

Building or altering lanes and roads

As our state continues to grow, it will be necessary to develop additional traffic capacity. Budgetary constraints and other factors mean we can't simply build our way out of congestion. We must plan our projects wisely by targeting the worst traffic-flow bottlenecks in our system. By addressing specific bottleneck locations we will be able to improve mobility on longer stretches of our highways.

Already we are addressing the most troublesome sections of our highway system. The 2003 and 2005 transportation funding packages included 391 projects, including many that added capacity where it made the most sense. Washington continues to invest in improvements to major transportation corridors.

However, there are many causes of congestion. Building new road space alone will not solve the congestion problem. We need a variety of solutions and to plan wisely. That's why Moving Washington includes operating efficiently and managing demand.

Operate Efficiently

Improving the function of existing roads

Smarter highways sign bridges on I-5 from Sea-Tac to Seattle will provide variable speed limits, lane status and instant traffic information.

Operating efficiently means taking steps to smooth traffic flows and avoid, or reduce situations that constrict roads. Collisions account for at least 25 percent of traffic backups, so making our roads safer will go a long way toward easing congestion. We're advancing the traffic technology that we've used for years; traffic management centers, traffic cameras and ramp meters, to the next generation. Electronic, variably priced tolling is up and running for both traffic management and system funding.

Smarter highways technology will soon change the way you negotiate your commute. Beginning with I-5 and SR 520 in the Seattle area, electronic signs with real-time traffic information and variable speed limits over each lane will improve traffic flow.

Manage Demand

Supporting alternatives to driving or driving alone

Managing demand means promoting and sponsoring travel options for commuters that result in greater efficiency for the transportation system. Providing easy access to options like convenient bus service, incentives to carpool or vanpool, promoting telecommuting. WSDOT is making it easier for commuters to make better choices. WSDOT partners with many organizations, including:

 Community Transit in Snohomish County
 Everett Transit
Intercity Transit in Olympia
C-Tran in Vancouver
King County Metro
Employers in the Commute Trip Reduction program
State-run and private ferries
Spokane Transit
Amtrak Cascades
Sound Transit
Pierce Transit

Other strategies include real-time traffic information displayed for drivers on electronic road signs and variable tolling based on traffic volume or time of day. All these options shift demand away from the parts of the system that are overburdened, whether it's a particular route or a particular time of the day.

What will success look like?

Moving Washington is a program of specific actions that can achieve tangible early results. We've already started to realize some results from the program's strategies with the completion of numerous highway construction projects. Many more projects are under construction, and we'll soon see their benefits, as well.

Moving Washington incorporates two-, six-, and 10-year plans that focus on the most troublesome corridors in Washington.

Over the next 10 years we will:

Improve travel times by 10%
Reduce collisions by 25%
Improve trip reliability by 10%
Provide choices for commuters in our major corridors

The State Auditor's Office published a congestion performance audit in October 2007, which included 22 findings related to congestion issues in the Puget Sound. WSDOT has acted upon 21 of 22 audit findings.