State Transportation Commission to discuss Ferries & HOT lanes at May 21 & 22 meeting
Transportation Commission Office - PO Box 47308 - Olympia, WA 98504-7308
Date: May 16, 2008
Contact: Reema Griffith, Transportation Commission Executive Director, 360-705-7070
OLYMPIA – Ferry customer surveys, long-term funding and current financing studies are key topics for discussion during the Washington State Transportation Commission’s meeting being held next week in Olympia. An update on the operations of the State Route (SR) 167 high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and a highway naming proposal will also be presented.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 21, at the Transportation Building, Commission Boardroom, 310 Maple Park Avenue SE, in Olympia. It continues at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 22, in the same location. Meetings are open to the public and persons wishing to address the Commission may do so during the public comment period scheduled for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
On Wednesday the Commission’s consultant, Opinion Research Northwest, will present preliminary findings from the first phases of the ferry user survey being conducted to gage customers’ travel behaviors and attitudes towards possible changes to ferry operations and pricing. An onboard survey of approximately 26,000 passengers on 150 randomly selected one-way trips was conducted in March to determine how and when people travel on the ferries, what influences the time of day they travel and the mode of travel they use to access the ferry. Additional surveys are planned over the next few months, with a final report due out in early October.
In addition, the Commission will discuss its Long-Term Ferry Funding study which examines historical and current funding of Washington State Ferries and will identify alternative long-term funding options. The Commission will make its recommendations and proposed long-term funding plan for ferries in its final report, which is due to the legislature this December. A presentation on the Joint Transportation Committee’s Ferry financing study will follow. This study is looking at all aspects of ferry operations, planning and capital investments to identify potential efficiencies and improvements. This study is also due to wrap up by the end of the year.
On Wednesday, Commissioners will receive an update on the SR 167 HOT lanes pilot project, reviewing their performance since the lanes opened on May 3. HOT lanes use variable tolling as a tool for improving highway efficiency. The toll price automatically increases and decreases with the level of traffic in the HOT lane. If successful, HOT lanes will maintain free-flowing conditions for buses and carpool lanes, while making better use out of SR 167’s former HOV lanes, which were underused.
Also on Wednesday, the Commission will take up a motion to name a portion of SR 112 in Clallam County the “Vietnam War Veterans’ Memorial Highway. The request for the naming of the highway between the junction of US 101 and SR 113 came to the Commission from the legislature through a Joint Memorial to honor Vietnam War veterans for their service and sacrifices.