What's Included in this Plan?

How to Read & Understand this Transportation Policy Plan

What is a transportation policy plan and why do we need it?

Statewide transportation policy plays out in countless individual decisions by local, regional, and state agencies every day, and it’s important for those individual decisions to work together to support Washington’s transportation needs today, and also over the long term.

The Washington Transportation Plan, or WTP, provides the policy framework that helps ensure day-to-day decisions made by hundreds of transportation partners across the state are consistent with statewide policy, and work in concert to support the mobility needs of Washington residents and businesses.

The Transportation Commission is required under RCW 47.01.071 to prepare and update every four years a comprehensive and balanced statewide transportation policy plan. The policy plan is to be consistent with Growth Management Act objectives and support the six statewide transportation goals established under RCW 47.04.280 by the legislature. It must be prepared with input from diverse transportation stakeholders, identify significant statewide policy issues and recommend to the legislature policies and strategies that support a safe and efficient transportation system.

WTP 2040 and Beyond is the Transportation Commission’s 2018 strategic statewide policy plan. It updates the Commission’s previous WTP 2035 and incorporates relevant findings from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s own WTP, Phase 2 – Implementation 2017-2040.

This document lays out strategic issues facing Washington State and emerging opportunities to support the mobility needs of people and businesses across the state. It considers all elements of the statewide transportation system and the roles and responsibilities of the many different owners and operators of that system.

What are Policy Recommendations?

Policy recommendations are associated with each of the six transportation goals and with the Future of Funding. These recommendations are indicated as near-term strategies that can be initiated during the term of this plan, between now and 2023, and long-term strategies that might get underway in this time period if the opportunity presents itself, but which are more likely to occur after 2023.

What you won’t find in this plan is a wish-list of projects or specific project funding recommendations. It is not that kind of a plan. Implementation is the realm of the state and local transportation plans which are developed on a place-based or system-based scale. This is a statewide policy plan, which is reflected in its recommendations.

Addressing the Future of Funding

2040 and Beyond highlights the funding dilemma facing transportation – there is not enough money from existing sources to take care of the system that is already in place, much less to make it larger. This is as true for local government as it is for the state. There are things we can do to get more bang for the buck, starting with fully funding basic maintenance and preservation needs and thinking strategically about where we allocate federal transportation funds. That is easier said than done, though. There are competing demands for limited funds, some of which are restricted in their use. It will take strategic thinking, innovation, and political courage on the hard decisions needed to make transportation funding more sustainable.

Learn More About the Future of Funding

What are Tough Topics?

A small number of particularly difficult transportation issues face Washington. These “tough topics” are challenges bigger than any one jurisdiction or agency. They include reliable I-5 crossing of the Columbia River, capacity constraints at Sea-Tac airport, inefficiencies in inter- regional public transportation, and shoring up the Puget Sound ferry system. They are tough for a reason – strategies haven’t been developed, nor are there the resources with which to address them. Yet ignoring them is irresponsible because the consequences of doing nothing are unacceptable and will have statewide implications. It will take time to work through the issues to arrive at reasonable strategies and even longer to implement them. 

Learn More About Our "Tough Topics" 

What are Cross-Cutting Topics?

Cross-cutting topics raise questions without easy answers. The three topics below are called cross-cutting because they have implications for each of the six statewide goals. Each cross-cutting topic highlights some of the most pressing uncertainties that transportation agencies face today as they work to build and operate a 21st century transportation system that meets the mobility needs of people and goods, and which we can reasonably afford to build and maintain

2040 and Beyond highlights three cross-cutting topics that every transportation agency is grappling with:

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Technology & Innovation

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ŠTechnology and Innovation, and the transformational effects this is having on the ways we think about mobility in the 21st century.

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System resilience

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System resilience in the face of climate change or a significant disaster like an earthquake, and how to fund preparations for effective response and recovery.

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Paying for Transportation

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Paying for transportation when traditional gas tax revenues are inadequate, federal cost-sharing participation is dwindling, and the bill is coming due on decades’ worth of deferred maintenance and preservation.