WSTC to discuss the future of electric vehicles and ferries, and high-speed rail in Washington

(OLYMPIA)– Planning for future transportation needs is the focus of the Washington State Transportation Commission’s February meeting. As the state looks to expand its use of electric vehicles, our state ferry system is also beginning a transition to hybrid electric boats. To increase options for clean and efficient travel options, high-speed ground transportation is also being explored. These are just some of topics the commission will hear about at this month’s meeting.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. both Tuesday, Feb. 16, and Wednesday, Feb. 17. Due to limitations on the size of gatherings in response to COVID-19, this meeting will be conducted virtually using GoToWebinar. People interested in attending can register on the commission’s website. The meeting will be broadcast live on TVW at www.tvw.org.

On Tuesday, the Oregon Department of Transportation will update the commission on its road usage charge program and tolling preparations. Given the significant travel that occurs between Oregon and Washington, and the effect the Portland metro area has on residents in southwest Washington, active coordination on efforts affecting both states is important. Following that, the I-5 Interstate Bridge Replacement Program, a joint program between the Oregon and Washington departments of transportation, will update the commission on the status of their efforts to determine funding approaches and a project design that will work for both states and the communities served by the bridge.

Much of Tuesday afternoon will be spent discussing ferry-related issues. The commission will hear about the Puget Sound Regional Council’s recently completed study on the potential for providing passenger-only ferry service throughout the Puget Sound, including Lake Washington and Lake Union. Washington State Ferries staff will update the commission about efforts underway to bring electrification to state ferries, starting with the conversion of one ferry class, the fleet’s three Jumbo Mark II vessels, to hybrid electric. WSF staff will also begin discussions with the commission on the 2021-23 ferry fare setting process and schedule.

On Wednesday, the commission will receive updates on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Cascadia Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation Report that assesses the potential for bringing this form of travel to Western Washington, running north/south between Vancouver, B.C., and Portland, Oregon. The commission will also hear the results of a recent WSDOT public information campaign regarding the impacts and damage studded tires cause to state highways. The campaign’s intent was to increase public awareness and encourage the use of alternative tire technology.

Questions from the public can be asked during the meeting by using the “question” box found on-screen during the virtual meeting, and as time allows, will be addressed during the meeting. Written public comment can also be submitted via email until 4 p.m. the day before the meeting. Comments should be sent to transc@wstc.wa.gov. Written comments received after this deadline will be provided to commissioners after the meeting.

All presentations will be available on the commission’s website. For more information about the commission and a complete meeting agenda, visit, wstc.wa.gov/