About 2040 & Beyond

The Route Ahead: A Transportation Plan For Washington’s Future

We’re looking forward, rapidly approaching a 2020 horizon that seemed distant not so long ago, and realizing that 2040 will be here before we know it. It feels like 2040 is here already as the pace of change and transformation all around us accelerates. What will we think when we look back on this time 20 years from now?

None of the long-range plans adopted in the late 1990s foresaw the kind of changes we’ve seen in the last two decades.

Consider the following relatively new technologies that we use everyday:

  • Smart phones and ride-hailing apps
  • Electric ferries
  • Ridesharing companies and Mobility as a Service
  • Dynamic tolling
  • Autonomous delivery vehicles Solar roadways
  • Driverless cars and trucks
  • E-bikes  
  • Drones

These aren’t on the horizon—it’s our reality today. These transportation innovations and disruptions have been matched by equally radical transformations in the retail sector, manufacturing, telecommunications, supply chain logistics, health care, and energy production.

Over the last twenty-five years, many of our visions have been translated into reality. Lots of that has been quite good.


Looking out 20 years or more gives us a chance to ask the big questions and more time to work out the answers.

The way we build our communities today means that more of us have access to more travel choices for more of our travel needs than ever before. That’s no small feat in a state that grew up with the automobile. There are still plenty of cars; that won’t change. But it’s not the only choice in more and more places because we’re building our communities in ways that make those choices possible.

There’s room for improvement too. We have some tough issues in front of us, issues having to do with housing affordability and uneven economic opportunities across the state. At first they don’t seem like transportation issues, but on closer look it’s clear that transportation is part of the solution. We have to make inroads on those broader issues before we can make much progress on thorny congestion issues.

That’s why we look ahead and refresh our plans. Looking out 20 years or more gives us a fresh perspective on what we’re facing in the next three to five years. It gives us a chance to ask some big questions and the time to work through the answers. It gives us a chance to take stock of what’s missing, assess what’s on the horizon, and make sure we’re not leaving parts of our community behind.

Let’s be clear—when we talk about transportation we are talking about the whole system, not just highways or streets and roads.

We’re talking about all the ways that people, goods, and services get from “here” to “there” and back again. When we talk about transportation we’re talking about the multimodal system of streets, roads and highways, transit and ferry systems, transit hubs and park-and-ride lots, railroads, strategic waterways, marine terminals and airports, bridges, sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails. We’re interested in the management of those systems, from operational efficiency and interconnectivity to safety, managing demand, and life-cycle maintenance costs. We’re interested in how well they connect, with seamless transfers from one mode to another. In short, we’re interested in mobility and access.

2040 and Beyond is about so much more than transportation.

It’s about the impacts transportation has on quality of life and the access it provides to the economic and social opportunities of our daily lives. It’s about the people, places, and prosperity of this great state.

This plan takes into account the opportunities Washington affords its residents and businesses, the health of our environment, and stability of our communities. It considers how transportation relates to economic vitality across the entire state.

Transportation is a means to achieving our overarching objectives; rarely is transportation the objective itself.

This plan is inspired by the things that are made possible by transportation at least as much as it is about transportation itself.

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