State transportation commission to meet Monday in Vancouver

Columbia River Crossing, other topics on the agenda

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

 

Public meeting

What: Washington State Transportation Commission meeting

When: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday (public comment scheduled at 4:30 p.m.)

Where: Port of Vancouver Commission Room, 3103 N.W. Lower River Road, Vancouver.

For the first time in more than seven years, the Washington State Transportation Commission will gather in Vancouver on Monday to get a pulse on local transportation issues.

Not surprisingly, the Columbia River Crossing figures prominently into the two-day agenda. The seven-member state transportation commission is the body that will ultimately set toll rates on the new Interstate 5 bridge between Vancouver and Portland.

The commission will spend Monday at the Port of Vancouver listening to presentations from a host of key players in Southwest Washington’s transportation system. Among them: C-Tran, the Regional Transportation Council, the port, the city of Vancouver and Clark County. One of Monday’s afternoon discussions will focus on the Clark County and Portland-area economy as it relates to transportation. The commission will also accept public comment beginning at 4:30 p.m.

On Tuesday morning, the commission will meet at Vancouver City Hall for a more thorough update on the Columbia River Crossing and a tour of the project area led by CRC Director Nancy Boyd.

This week’s Vancouver meeting is only the latest in a series of trips the commission has made across the state this year. The reason isn’t just big-ticket items like the more than $3 billion CRC, said Reema Griffith, executive director of the state transportation commission. The group also gathers information on smaller undertakings and hot points to take back to state policymakers in Olympia, she said.

“It’s a way of sort of elevating some of the local issues,” Griffith said. “Sometimes those things don’t get elevated.”

The commission also travels to keep itself up to speed, Griffith said. Four of its seven members were just appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire this year. Clark County’s lone representative on the commission, Philip Parker, was appointed in 2007.

The commission serves largely in an advisory role in state government, Griffith said. But its members are sometimes asked for recommendations to the governor or others.

“They have to stay fairly well abreast of the major issues so that they can respond to those kinds of requests,” Griffith said.

Vancouver last hosted the transportation commission in May 2004.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; www.twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.