RTC: The local agency you probably don’t know…but should!
If your commute from Clark County to work requires driving into Portland weekday mornings and back in the evenings – or your business moves freight during these time frames – you’re no doubt keenly aware of the significant choke point that is the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. Maybe you com-mute or recreate by bicycle within our area and prefer to pedal on enhanced off-street bike routes and designated bike lanes? And what if you’re a pe-destrian, either mobility-impaired or not, who prefers to walk a path or sidewalk free of obstacles and at a safe distance from traffic? Or perhaps you’re simply someone who’d like to breathe cleaner air – you all have one thing in common: you have and will continue to benefit from the funding decisions and advocacy of the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council. (RTC).
The RTC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for transportation projects in Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties. The RTC receives federal funding annually to help with transportation-related projects; it’s up to the RTC to determine how those funds get spent within its designated area.
For the 2020 calendar year, Port of Ridgefield Port Commissioner Scott Hughes will serve as Chairman of the RTC board, which is comprised of representatives from cities, counties, ports and other jurisdictions in the region. Hughes, who had served for three years on the board prior to his new leadership role, is enthusiastic about the work of the RTC.
“The RTC provides an objective selection process that allows us to plan and fund priority projects that bring the most community benefit,” Hughes said. “By working with all of the jurisdictions, we communicate and cooperate for the good of the greater region.”
Hughes said the RTC works to dispel the myth that the RTC’s project selection and funding is only about adding new roads.
“It’s so much more,” he said. “We support traffic safety, congestion relief, a cleaner environment, multi-modal transportation improvements, sidewalk addi-tions and upgrades and we advocate for projects not eligible for RTC funding – such as the I-5 bridge replacement.”
The RTC is a transportation planning partner for Ridgefield. For example, the agency put $148,000 towards the Main Avenue Pathway connector project from downtown Ridgefield to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. The path, recently completed, provides enhanced safety for pedestrians and bicyclists traversing that route. The agency also worked to keep project funding in place when permitting issues threatened to derail the Pioneer Street Rail Overcrossing project.
“It would not be under construction today without the RTC,” said Hughes.”
With funding to the RTC dictated by the federal budget, however, Hughes is realistic about the limits of the RTC.
“There may be possibly billions of dollars of local need, but there is nothing close to that available right now.”
For more information about the RTC visit rtc.wa.gov
SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION COUNCIL (RTC)
“To encourage and promote the development of a balanced, safe, efficient and affordable regional transportation system to meet the mobility needs of people and goods, within and through this region, and minimize transportation-related air pollution.”