Puget Sound Regional Council

Quality of life and economic prosperity in the central Puget Sound region depends on efficient mobility for both people and goods. VISION 2040 prioritizes transportation projects and services that produce greater efficiency, reduce trips, and provide more choices. These projects include roadways, transit, ferry service, trails, bicycle lanes, passenger rail, and additional airport capacity.

There is also recognition that strategic expansion of capacity is needed, particularly in and between centers. Capacity expansion should take place after efforts have been made to optimize capacity and use of existing facilities and completing arterial networks. With continued expansion of international trade, and local increases in the movement of freight, goods, and services, there is also a need for additional port capacity, rail capacity, and freight access—especially to manufacturing and warehousing areas.

The Congestion Relief and Mobility Strategy combines:

  • Land Use Planning
    • Land use is the foundation of the region’s Congestion Relief and Mobility strategy. The region has a comprehensive growth strategy, VISION 2040, which lays out preferred growth patterns and regional policies to achieve them. The regional growth strategy includes limits on rural sprawl, support for infill into 27 designated urban growth centers, better jobs-housing balance, and other land use patterns that are supportive of an efficient multimodal transportation system including transit-oriented developments.
  • Managing System Demand
    • The region has an aggressive demand management program to encourage shifting the time or mode of travel. A cornerstone is the state’s commute trip reduction law which encourages and supports employers in reducing drive-alone commutes. Empirical research and regional analysis suggest that pricing is by far the most effective demand management strategy. The region has extensive transit service, the largest vanpool fleet in the nation, a large system of HOV lanes, and has supported innovative practices such as car-sharing, parking management, and pay-as-you-drive insurance. In the recent past, pricing has emerged as both a demand management strategy as well as a revenue strategy.
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Operational Strategies
    • Much of the throughput of existing roadways is lost at congested times: the region is seeking to reclaim its lost capacity, and improve safety and air quality through improved operations. Freeway ramp meters, incident management programs, arterial traffic signal coordination, safety initiatives, traveler information and active management through camera and data monitoring are all intelligent transportation systems employed to increase throughput. The region has a policy supporting the use of congestion pricing to improve system efficiency. The SR 167 HOT lane pilot project completed in 2008 tests these concepts.
  • Strategic System Capacity
    • With the high levels of growth projected for the region, there will be a need to add strategic capacity. This, however, must be balanced with the greenhouse gas emissions directives from the Washington State Legislature and the Governor. Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) are one source of GHG emissions and therefore are subject to increased scrutiny. The current Transportation 2040 plan update supports multimodal transportation, completing arterials and improving bottlenecks. The region’s high-capacity transit system continues to develop, including commuter rail, express bus, and a growing light rail system. Plans include expanding the light rail system to connect major regional growth centers and other transit service. Complete streets, non-motorized facilities within urban centers, and connecting centers are also supported.

Congestion Management Process

As the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the central Puget Sound region, PSRC is required by federal law to maintain a Congestion Management Process (CMP). A CMP is a systematic process for managing congestion that provides information on multimodal transportation system performance and on alternative strategies to alleviate congestion and enhance the mobility of persons and goods to levels that meet state and local needs.

Puget Sound Regional Council • 1011 Western Ave, Suite 500 • Seattle, WA 98104 • 206-464-7090