Frequently Asked Questions

This Study will evaluate long-term transportation strategies and investments needed to sustain the county’s economic health and quality of life in the coming decades. The study will inform future choices and decisions by considering the potential changes Washington County may face in the coming decades, beyond 2040.

The Study will provide guidance for future Transportation System Plan updates for Washington County and the cities and communities within the county; and for future investment decisions about improvements to the transportation system for vehicles, transit, bicycles and pedestrians.

At the close of the 2013 legislative session the state legislature appropriated $1.5 million for this study. The funding for the Washington County Transportation Futures Study is being used to evaluate long-term transportation investments needed to sustain the county’s economic health and quality of life in the coming decades. The study will inform future choices and decisions by considering the potential changes Washington County may face in the coming decades, beyond 2040.

This is a study—not a plan. The Transportation System Plan describes transportation policies and defines the intended character, function, general location, general size and scope of each component of the transportation system over the next 20 years. This study is attempting to identify possible future transportation investments that could be resilient to change 20-50 years from now.

Yes. The first phase of the study, “Taking Stock, ” summarized how the county has developed over the past 25 years, and lessons learned from transportation policy and investment decisions made during this time. In addition, information about community values was consolidated from over two dozen planning projects conducted over the past two decades by public agencies, community groups, and public interest groups.

Several important transportation-related studies and plans have been completed in the last few years, including the county’s TSP Update, Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan Update, the Port of Portland’s Freight Mobility Study, The 2014 Cost of Congestion Study co-sponsored by the Port of Portland and the Portland Business Alliance, Metro’s Climate Smart Communities Strategy (which fulfills a 2009 state legislative mandate requiring Metro to develop and implement a strategy to reduce the region’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2035), the Westside Service Enhancement Plan completed by TriMet, and Metro’s Active Transportation Plan.

The Study provides an opportunity to examine the cumulative impacts of adopted land use plans, in conjunction with new analysis (e.g., safety/crash data, updated travel demand forecasts, and implications associated with technological changes that are likely to affect how people travel), to make sure that short term decisions and actions address longer term needs and community priorities.

It is important to note that this is a long range study – not a plan, or the evaluation of specific transportation projects. It provides an opportunity to look beyond the typical 20-year TSP planning horizon to address important long term issues that may not have been addressed in the TSP. The Study will position Washington County for future success by examining the long term transportation implications of the growth allowed for in adopted land use plans and local knowledge of how the urban reserve areas will develop. It will allow the community and elected officials to assess trade-offs among different investment packages in relation to community values and priorities. The Study findings may inform subsequent updates of regional, county and local TSPs, and for discussion of transportation financing at state and federal levels.

The Study will focus on evaluating conceptual investment packages, which will likely include a mix of different investments in roads, transit services, and bicycles and pedestrians facilities. Packages of investments will be developed for testing, which build off current adopted transportation plans with the addition of the enhanced transit package from the Metro Climate Smart Communities Plan and the development of a basic local grid transportation system in the Urban Reserves. From this common base the unique transportation investments for each of the two IPs will be developed.

The three investment packages will be multimodal in nature but diverse in how and where investments are applied. The investment packages will consist of a set of projects for modeling purposes but evaluated at a conceptual level with project level results used for illustrative purposes.

This information will provide guidance for future transportation investment decisions. If new transportation corridors are needed to serve anticipated growth (employment as well as residential) they may be added to the county’s TSP and Metro’s Regional TSP.

Previous planning efforts, such as the Westside Bypass, are included in the foundation understanding of how transportation needs have changed. As part of the Taking Stock phase of the project, the Study team reviewed the history and implications of the Western Bypass study and the 1,000 Friends of Oregon’s “making the Land Use, Transportation and Air Quality connection” (LUTRAQ) study. This factsheet explains more about the Western Bypass study and where the County is with implementing the Recommended Alternative that came out of that study.

Regional forecasts extend to 2040 based on existing data sources identifying growth trends for population and employment. As part of this Study, “futurists”, academics and other technical experts as well as the Study Advisory Committee identified factors that could change future travel behavior and needs (e.g., driverless cars, telecommuting, and climate change regulation).

Combinations of these factors of change will be used to inform two land use scenarios: one that reflects current trends and one that reflects a plausible alternative that is intended to be substantially different from Scenario 1 and will help the project team evaluate the resiliency of the transportation investment packages given the uncertainty of future land use patterns.

The public involvement program includes engagement with a number of technical and community stakeholder committees, as well as involvement of the broader community. Ongoing involvement is primarily web-based in order to reach as broad an audience as possible and provide convenient ways to participate. Timely feedback opportunities will be available through online surveys, opinion polls, interactive maps, online open houses, and frequent updates of project information. Non-web based engagement will occur through activities such as stakeholders interviews and presentations to numerous community groups and associations.

All meetings where the Study is discussed will be open to the public with meeting times and locations posted on the events page of the website.

The SAC will provide a forum to explore how the Study’s approach, analysis and potential transportation investment packages meet the county’s anticipated future transportation needs and reflect the community values of Washington County. The SAC will review study products and findings and will advise county staff at key study milestones.

The Study efforts will take place over approximately 18-20 months starting in January 2015 and ending in the fall of 2016. The goal is to provide the results of the Study to the state legislature for its 2017 session.