The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

FAQ about Washinton State Transportation Commission

Washington State Transportation Commission
Current Roles and Responsibilities as of April 23, 2007

The Washington State Transportation Commission provides a public forum for transportation policy development. It reviews and evaluates how the entire transportation system works across the state and issues the state’s 20-year Transportation Plan. As the State Tolling Authority, the Commission sets tolls for state highways and bridges and fares for Washington State Ferries.


Reema Griffith, Executive Director

Key Facts

  • The Commission is a seven member body of citizens appointed by the Governor for six-year terms. The Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation and a representative from the Governor’s Office are ex officio members of the Commission.
  • As a public forum for transportation policy development, the Commission develops and issues a comprehensive and balanced 20-year statewide transportation plan that reflects the priorities of government and addresses local, regional and statewide needs. It proposes transportation policy for the state and coordinates state transportation planning with national transportation policy, and with local/regional land use and transportation plans.
  • The Commission conducts a statewide outreach program to gather input into state transportation policy, promote transportation education, and understand local and regional transportation needs and challenges. The Commission reports its findings in an annual report to the Governor and Legislature.
  • The Commission is designated the State Tolling Authority and as such, sets all state highway and bridge tolls as well as setting fares for Washington State Ferries.
  • Supplemental policy tasks assigned to the Commission by the Legislature include:
    • Oversight of the Transportation Innovative Partnership Program
    • Conducting a ferry user market survey every two years
    • Adopting the long-range ferry capital plan, ferry system operating strategies, and pricing policies
    • Naming state transportation facilities

Current Responsibilities in Detail

Washington Transportation Plan

Every four years, the Commission recommends to the Legislature a comprehensive and balanced statewide transportation plan. The plan must be consistent with the state’s growth management goals and be based upon transportation policy goals adopted by the Legislature. The plan is required to reflect the priorities of government and address local, regional and statewide needs, including multimodal transportation planning.

State Ferry Fare Setting and State Highway Toll Responsibilities

  • The Commission is the state’s tolling authority, setting tolls for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the SR 167 HOT Lanes pilot project, and any future toll facilities created by a Transportation Benefit District or a Regional Transportation Investment District.
  • The Commission reviews and adjusts state ferry fares and adopts a ferry fare schedule annually.
  • The Commission adopts a long-range ferry capital plan and reviews WSF operational and pricing strategies to ensure full utilization of ferry system assets.

Policy Guidance

The Commission offers policy guidance and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature in key issue areas including but not limited to:

  • Transportation finance.
  • Preserving, maintaining, and operating the statewide transportation system.
  • Transportation infrastructure needs.
  • Promoting best practices for adoption and use by transportation-related agencies and programs.
  • Transportation efficiencies that will improve service delivery and intermodal coordination.
  • Improved planning and coordination among transportation agencies and providers.
  • Use of intelligent transportation systems and other technology based solutions.

Public Involvement & Outreach

The Commission conducts a public outreach program including meetings held in Olympia and in different cities throughout the state. Meetings held outside of Olympia focus on local and regional transportation issues and challenges. In addition to regular meetings, the Commission convenes regional forums to gather citizen input on transportation.

Transportation Innovative Partnerships (TIP) Program

The Commission may solicit concepts or proposals for eligible public-private partnership projects. In consultation with the Governor, the Commission may execute, reject or continue negotiations on proposed public-private partnership projects.


Consistent with developing a comprehensive and balanced statewide transportation plan, the Commission reviews and evaluates whether the state and local transportation system is integrated so that people and goods can effectively and efficiently move across the state.

Specific studies and projects for the 2007-09 biennium

  • Conducting a long-term ferry finance study.
  • Conducting a detailed analysis of tolling options for specific routes and structures, as a follow-up to the Commission’s Comprehensive Tolling Study completed in 2006.
  • Convening a Regional Transportation Summit to address governance and funding for regional transportation needs in the Spokane area.

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