During the next 50 years, population and employment will grow and the County will become more urban. As envisioned in local community plans, much of the future growth will focus on downtowns and centers. Urban centers will become more vibrant and employment and industrial areas will grow. The agricultural character and economy in rural areas is anticipated to remain strong.
Given the uncertainty of forecasting the long-term future, the Study team worked with local and national experts to develop two future scenarios for how we might grow. These scenarios will be used to test the resiliency of transportation investment ideas.
Scenario 1 is based on existing trends, while Scenario 2 assumes stronger growth in economic activity leading to a higher number of residents and greater employment in the County.
These two scenarios will be used to study future travel demand to, from, and within Washington County in the next 40–50 years and to evaluate how potential transportation investments meet these long-term needs.
The county could grow from a population of 554,000 today to a population of 770,000. This is the equivalent of adding another Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Tigard to the County in this time period.
In this scenario, urban areas in the County, particularly those clustered in downtowns, centers and corridors, would become more urban with an increase of more than 30 percent in people per square mile.
The number of jobs in the County would double.
Washington County’s concentrated employment areas are expected to increase in Hillsboro, along the Hwy 217 corridor, and beyond Tualatin-Sherwood Road in the south County industrial areas of Tualatin, Sherwood and Wilsonville. Cities outside of the metro area in adjacent counties are expected to grow as well, and we anticipate an increase in commuting from these areas to jobs within the Portland metro area.
A second growth scenario was developed based on input from local and national experts on potential changes in demographics, economics, land use, transportation systems and travel behavior. This second scenario assumes a future with an increase in technology, trade and transportation-related jobs clustered in Washington County and the region due to an emerging global middle class and increased reliance on technology.
In the second scenario, the County will grow more rapidly and create more jobs.