by Brent Grening, CEO
With increased activity in Ridgefield, Southwest Washington, and the entire metro area, keeping things moving has become a big challenge and is a high priority for our community. Commuters into Vancouver or Portland are painfully aware of increasing congestion. Today’s traffic counts are greater than predicted; the problem is growing faster than anticipated.
The good news is that our regional economy is humming. So ensuring people can continue to move about easily is important to our community’s economic health. People are going to work, which brings congestion, which lowers our productivity. So you’ll begin to hear more about a new discussion of an I-5 bridge and a suite of improvements that will keep the I-5 corridor flowing.
Vehicle traffic isn’t the only congestion that’s on the port’s mind this fall. We’re also still pressing for greater broadband connectivity. Large portions of our district lack the bandwidth necessary to conduct business from here. If you can’t access the bandwidth to work locally, you are forced to join the thousands of people who must commute to make a living.
An open access, community-owned broadband infrastructure – which will allow people to connect in order to launch a data-driven business or to work from home – must be part of our transportation solution. Simply put, we need to move more data and fewer cars, because the infrastructure cost to move data is much less than that to move vehicles.
So as we look forward to the 2018 legislative session, the port will focus on two pieces of critical community infrastructure: One, improving I-5, the major artery that connects us to Portland, the economic heart of our region; and two, gaining the authority to build a fiber optic network to allow people to spend less time on the road.