Will the RTC include planning for two new bridges & transportation corridors?

March 20, 2023by John Ley0

Clark County to have 700,000 people by 2045

Will our transportation system be ready?

Remarks to the March 7, 2023 Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors.

Ley remarks begin at about 3:30 to about 6:42. Or you can click here to view.

On today’s agenda, the RTC Board will be laying the groundwork for an updated 20-year Growth Plan. Critical to that are the numerous assumptions for people, jobs and housing. Your focus should be what transportation infrastructure will be necessary to serve those SW Washington citizens.


The data in the report indicates that by 2045, you expect just shy of 700,000 Clark County residents. That is extremely important because of the excellent work you did in 2008 with your “Visioning Study”. That study projected Clark County transportation needs for when population reached 1 million people. 


At the time of the study, population was about 405,000 people. It projected needs for when an additional 600,000 people were added. The news today is you will be halfway there by 2045.


The Visioning Study called for TWO new transportation corridors and bridges across the Columbia River. It provided two options for a west side corridor and two options for an east side corridor. Today, there is NOTHING in your 20-year growth plan, that calls for planning and land acquisition for either of the two transportation corridors. You know it can take two decades to plan for highways and bridges. Will you NOW begin planning for BOTH of those transportation corridors by putting BOTH in your 20 year plan?


You have the added benefit of two people on your board today who helped create the RTC Visioning Study – Jack Burkman and Matt Ransom. Unless you believe their work was wrong or hugely flawed, we are long past time to put the two corridors into the RTCs 20 year plan. 


(The RTC Visioning Study offered two possible corridors for a bridge west of I-5, and two possible corridors for a bridge east of I-205).


Four years ago this body reviewed the RTC Visioning Study. You had an unprecedented number of citizens show up and make public comments calling for the planning and construction of a 3rd bridge. And yes, I was one of them.


Your new growth figures indicate Clark County will be HALFWAY to the million people by 2045. If now is NOT the time to put the two transportation corridors in your growth plan, when will it be appropriate? The IBR is well on its way and you need to be focused on “what’s next”. 


As I have shared many times, Portland has a dozen bridges across the Willamette River. We need more than two bridges across the Columbia. 


Cincinnati has 7 bridges across the Ohio River to northern Kentucky. Pittsburgh has 28 bridges across their 3 rivers. New York City has 789 bridges; 24 of them are movable and there are 4 tunnels. 


By 2035, both Oregon and Washington are mandating only electric vehicles be sold. By 2045 we will be in an electric vehicle traffic jam, if you don’t begin the planning and land acquisition, for multiple new transportation corridors. Let’s get started today by adding two new bridges and corridors!

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