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Integrating Context Sensitive Solutions in Transportation Planning

Destination 2030

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Graphic. Logo of the Puget Sound Regional Council, Greater Seattle Region, Washington.

Puget Sound Regional Council
Greater Seattle Region, Washington

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) serves as the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and growth management entity for a 16,286-km2 (6,288-mi2) region. The region is a complex jurisdiction including 4 counties, 4 port authorities, 6 transit agencies, 8 Federally-recognized Tribes, and 82 cities, including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bremerton, and Bellevue. The region had a population of 3.5 million in 2000, and has projected a population of 4.6 million by 2030. Approximately 85 percent of the region's residents are in urbanized areas. The region has long been a center for the aerospace industry, and although this sector has somewhat declined in strength in recent years, high-technology sector jobs have continued to draw workers and their families. "New Economy" firms that rely more on communication and connectivity than on physical proximity to markets or suppliers are influencing the region's urban form.

The region lies between the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and is bisected by the Puget Sound. These landscape features create a dramatic setting but also constrain development and the transportation system. The combination of growth and constraints has led to severe congestion. A Texas Transportation Institute study that measured congestion by comparing the time required for the same trip taken during peak-hours compared to off-peak times found that only Los Angeles had more congestion than the Seattle region.

The PSRC also develops and maintains regional growth and economic strategies. The MPO works to strengthen the linkages between these planning efforts and transportation planning. One of the major themes in the region's land-use planning efforts has been the encouragement of more compact urban development at designated "centers." This planning policy has been supported through substantial transportation investment to connect "centers" by transit, roadways, and other means.

CSS Highlights

Upfront Pre-planning Process: Before initiating the formal transportation planning cycle, the PSRC conducts formal interviews and organized meetings with all the region's jurisdictions to collect information on local issues. The PSRC also gains insight into the local conditions and community goals through the required review of local comprehensive plans as the regional growth management entity. This pre-planning work helps ensure that the concerns of all cities in the region are heard before a region-wide problem statement is developed.

Communication is Open, Honest, Early and Continuous: Aside from the formal meetings described above, the PSRC holds early events to initiate dialogue with interest groups and the general public. These meetings allow the MPO to detect disconnects between officials' views and local policy and the concerns of citizens. Once the planning process is underway, committees representing a range of issues and groups are formed. One of the goals of the PSRC is to coordinate land-use and transportation planning. Thus, the various planning and policy divisions work to maintain connections between these two areas of planning and policy. These divisions constitute internal stakeholders, and the PSRC seeks to coordinate the efforts of all divisions across projects and technical and advisory committees. Taken together, this approach brings the views of local officials, citizens, and other regional planners to bear on the long-range transportation plan.

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Updated: 07/01/2014
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