C-Tran is another step closer to bringing a second bus rapid transit line to Vancouver along Mill Plain Boulevard.
During its regular meeting Tuesday, C-Tran’s board of directors agreed to ask the Federal Transit Administration to allow the Mill Plain project to enter the development phase. Essentially, that means bringing the project’s vision into sharper focus and making it eligible for federal funding. The board also approved a $4.5 million guarantee to cover the $50 million project’s development costs.
“We’ll ideally move into that phase (in) spring 2019 — pending (FTA) approval,” C-Tran spokeswoman Christine Selk said.
While the agency has its sights on the second phase, it’s still not finished with the first one. C-Tran is still connecting with the public and advisory committees, soliciting feedback and sifting through the responses. The agency is also still considering station locations, traffic patterns, ridership numbers, and more.
“Mill Plain is kind of interesting,” Selk said. “I think anyone who travels it regularly knows some parts are busier than others. Probably our biggest challenge is the choke point at the (Interstate) 205 interchange — that requires a lot of attention and discussion.”
Another quandary is where the route will end on the east side.
C-Tran still has yet to determine the east and west ends of the route. Is it best to use Fort Vancouver Way and use Evergreen Boulevard to go downtown? Or does it make more sense to use Washington Street, Seventh Street and Broadway before getting back on Mill Plain Boulevard?
Should the bus travel to Southeast 192nd Avenue, or does it make more sense to take Southeast 164th Avenue and end at Fisher’s Landing Transit Center?
Another question still up for debate is how closely the new bus rapid transit’s station designs will adhere to those of The Vine, which runs mostly along Fourth Plain Boulevard from downtown to the mall.
“Whether it’ll be like The Vine or not is unclear, but the majority of our conversations have been around keeping it as consistent as we can,” Selk said. “We have a brand with The Vine now, and I think it behooves us as an agency to not confuse people … but there could be some tweaks made.”
C-Tran will host a public open house from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Hudson’s Bay High School, 1601 E. McLoughlin Blvd., for members of the public to offer their thoughts. People will be able to see the proposed station locations on a map for the first time and give feedback.
Beginning Thursday and until Nov. 26, C-Tran is also hosting an online open house where people can interact with the proposed alignment and offer feedback. That will be at www.CatchTheVine.com/openhouse.
Mill Plain is C-Tran’s second-busiest corridor. The agency says that in 2017 more than 767,000 passengers rode Route 37, which currently serves it.