An inside look at the transportation program | Carter’s Community

Today we will tackle the very dry, complex six-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Public Works Director Dan Grigsby would probably disagree with me.

Today we will tackle the very dry, complex six-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  Public Works Director Dan Grigsby would probably disagree with me.

It happens every year. It is required by law.  It is a nonbinding plan submitted to the state.  “It does not set priorities, it does not encumber money,” Grigsby said at the July 23 council meeting. “It is strictly based on what the city engineer and the development engineer are aware of might happen where future roads might be built.”

That is the short answer. It’s complicated. The crux of it is the TIP is the programming document for transportation improvements over a six-year period and is required by state law. RCW 35.77.010 to be exact.  The TIP is consistent with and implements the City’s adopted comprehensive growth management plan.  The TIP is not part of the comprehensive plan; it must only be consistent with the comprehensive plan.  Confused yet?

The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) requires jurisdictions fully planning under the GMA to include a capital facilities plan element in their comprehensive plans. The capital facilities element is required before a jurisdiction can impose GMA impact fees. Other jurisdictions are required to have a capital facilities plan before imposing certain taxes, such as the real estate excise tax and to qualify for state funding for capital facilities.

The capital facilities plan implements the land use element of the comprehensive plan, and these two elements, including the financing plan within the capital facilities element, must be coordinated and consistent. The GMA also requires a separate transportation element that implements, and is consistent with, the land use element and shall include the following:

1. Land use impacts on travel

Estimated traffic impacts to state-owned transportation facilities (like SR 410) resulting from land use to assist the department of transportation in monitoring the performance of state facilities, to plan improvements for the facilities, and to assess the impact of land-use decisions on state-owned transportation facilities;

2. Facilities and service needs

(A) An inventory of all transportation facilities and services, to define existing capital facilities and travel levels as a basis for future planning. This inventory must include state-owned transportation facilities within the city or county’s jurisdictional boundaries;

(B) Level of service (LOS) standards for all locally owned arterials to serve as a gauge to judge performance of the system. These standards should be regionally coordinated are through Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC);

(C) For state-owned transportation facilities, LOS standards for highways to gauge the performance of the system. The purposes of reflecting LOS standards for state highways in the local comprehensive plan are to monitor the performance of the system, to evaluate improvement strategies, and to facilitate coordination between the county’s or city’s six-year street, road, or transit program and the office of financial management’s ten-year investment program;

(D) Specific actions and requirements for bringing into compliance locally owned transportation facilities or services that are below an established LOS standard;

(E) Forecasts of traffic for at least ten years based on the adopted land use plan to provide information on the location, timing, and capacity needs of future growth;

(F) Identification of state and local system needs to meet current and future demands. Identified needs on state-owned transportation facilities must be consistent with the statewide multimodal transportation plan;

3.  Finance

(A) An analysis of funding capability to judge needs against probable funding resources;

(B) A multiyear financing plan based on the needs identified in the comprehensive plan, the appropriate parts of which shall serve as the basis for the six-year street, road, or transit program required for cities, counties, and public transportation systems. The multiyear financing plan should be coordinated with the ten-year investment program developed by the office of financial management;

(C) If probable funding falls short of meeting identified needs, a discussion of how additional funding will be raised, or how land use assumptions will be reassessed to ensure that LOS standards will be met;

Intergovernmental coordination efforts, including an assessment of the impacts of the transportation plan and land use assumptions on the transportation systems of adjacent jurisdictions;

4.  Demand-management strategies

Pedestrian and bicycle component to include collaborative efforts to identify and designate planned improvements for pedestrian and bicycle facilities and corridors that address and encourage enhanced community access and promote healthy lifestyles.

After adoption of the comprehensive plan by jurisdictions (like Bonney Lake) required to plan under GMA, local jurisdictions must adopt and enforce ordinances which prohibit development approval if the development causes the LOS on a locally owned transportation facility to decline below the standards adopted in the transportation element of the comprehensive plan, unless transportation improvements or strategies to accommodate the impacts of development are made concurrent with the development. These strategies may include increased public transportation service (we no longer have public transit, but have a pilot program), ride sharing programs, demand management, and other transportation systems management strategies. “Concurrent with the development” means that improvements or strategies are in place at the time of development, or that a financial commitment is in place to complete the improvements or strategies within six years.

The transportation element, the six-year plans required by state laws for cities, counties, and for public transportation systems, and the ten-year investment program must be consistent.

Are you still with me? Good! You probably realize it when you try to drive through the city that the LOS in Bonney Lake for streets, arterials and state Route 410 are level D.  This consistent with the Puget Sound Regional Council’s standard.  The best flow is A, and the worst is F—just like grades in school. LOS D borders on a range on which small increases in flow may cause substantial delays and decreases in arterial speed.  This may be due to adverse movement from one signal to the next, inappropriate signal timing, high volumes, or some combination of these.  Average travel speeds are about 40 percent of free flow speed.  That would be speeds of about 27 mph on SR 410 during rush hour; the free flow speed is 45 mph.

I told you it was complicated.

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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at
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