Earlier this year, Washington residents weighed in for the first time on the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC)’s Project Selection Policy Framework. Those guidelines help shape the grant applications that PSRC uses to score individual projects. We encouraged PSRC to make several changes to help the framework better prioritize equity, safety, and air quality, and we know many TCC supporters did the same.

We’ve got a great update! In January, PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board voted to accept the recommendations of the project selection task force. The recommendations include creating a new $5 million equity fund, plus improved criteria and additional points for equity and safety in the grant applications. Especially exciting news is that not only will the distribution of the equity funds be directed by the new Equity Advisory Committee, there has also been a commitment to solicit broader feedback on the project selection process and incorporate it into the next policy framework update in 2023.

If you submitted public comment back in December, congratulations! Your input means PSRC will select better, more equitable projects in years to come. There’s still more to improve both on projects and process, but speaking up when we have the chance to change course is how we make progress.

Washington residents now have another chance to shape transportation in the Puget Sound region. PSRC is currently asking for feedback on its Regional Transportation Plan, which outlines the future of transit, rail, ferry, streets and highways, freight, bicycle and pedestrian and more. It is intended to build on VISION 2050, PSRC’s plan for regional growth, and contains a mix of policies, goals, project lists, modeling, analysis, and financial assumptions. A Regional Transportation Plan is required for federal transportation funding, and gets updated every four years.

You can read the full plan and watch archived webinars about it on the “Open House” page on PSRC’s website. That page also has videos exploring several of the plan’s different priorities.

Overall this plan update has an improved focus on climate, safety, and equity. While it primarily captures the existing and planned transportation investments of each local jurisdiction, if it has strong policies in place and helps the organization institutionalize equity, this helps to prioritize the best projects and improve those that get built. Below are a few of the many changes we’ll be recommending to the Transportation Policy Board:

  • We suggest PSRC hire climate justice and ADA transition staff as part of this Plan, to make it easier and faster to ensure the climate strategy is reflective of environmental justice concerns and that local jurisdictions have the regional support they need to build accessible networks.
  • We suggest PSRC develop a list of recommended policy changes that will be necessary for the Project Selection Framework when the updated Regional Transportation Plan is in place.
  • The Plan should require projects that seek PSRC funding to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled.
  • We suggest PSRC emphasize funding for bike/walk/transit/roll investments in transit sheds and growth centers, consistent with VISION 2050’s 65/75 policy.
  • And we believe the equity analysis should include existing and projected air quality and pollution exposure for EJ populations.

These changes would have far-reaching implications for whether the Plan creates equitable, accessible, exceptional transportation options. Take a few minutes to tell PSRC what you think the Regional Transportation Plan should include. Comments are due one week from today, on February 28.

Long-term plans like this will shape policy for years to come, so they are a powerful opportunity to make your voice heard! Thank you to everyone who spoke up in December — your advocacy made a difference. Weigh in on the Regional Transportation Plan too and help bring even better transportation options to the Puget Sound region.

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