Why is Economic Vitality Important?
Economic vitality underpins our ability to accomplish other statewide goals. A robust economy requires efficient, reliable travel options and compatible land use patterns. This is as true in highly rural Washington as it is in our major metropolitan areas, and everywhere in between. Congestion in the Puget Sound region has a ripple effect on the rest of the state, affecting the well-being of farm families in Yakima and millwrights in Port Angeles.
Four Policies that Support the Statewide Economic Vitality Goal:
Support economic competitiveness across the state with strategic multimodal transportation investments coordinated with corresponding land use and other infrastructure policies to improve efficient and reliable movement of goods and services, and workforce access.
Recognize the full range of multimodal and intermodal mobility needs that support the state’s economy, including but not limited to first-mile/last-mile freight access and delivery, intermodal connectors, intermodal drayage20, industrial access to interstate and international travel, international border crossings, and workforce commuter travel as well as an array of multimodal systems that support travel-dependent tourism.
Promote innovative public-private partnerships that advance economic objectives and redefine ways of collaborating across sectors to provide infrastructure and services that meet mobility needs and align with public values about equity and access.
Support efforts to site or expand, as appropriate, regionally significant or statewide significant transportation facilities such as airports, intermodal transfer facilities, and other essential public facilities that support economic vitality, and minimize encroachment of incompatible land uses.
Recommendations to Advance Economic Vitality Statewide:
Ensure local land use policies prevent encroachment on Essential Public Facilities that support freight mobility.
Ensure Washington’s freight transportation system is responsive to the technologies and market forces that are reshaping freight mobility, supply chain logistics, and commercial vehicle operations, and can support the state’s economic vitality and public interests under a range of plausible future conditions.
Increase the economic resilience of border-to-border freight corridors and the capacity of this freight network to recover rapidly after major system disruptions.
Pursue innovative strategies to maintain the economic viability of rural regional, community, local, and general use airports.
Support the state’s economic competitiveness in international trade by helping to ensure Washington’s ports are “big ship ready”—in the water and on land.
Cross-cutting topics can advance our understanding, preparedness, and ownership over new horizons. Here we present potential next steps and some options available to deepen understanding.
Technology and innovation create new opportunities for managing system capacity and increasing efficient throughput. We need to be resolute in our efforts to ensure transportation supports economic opportunity across the state by considering not just urban applications for technology and innovation but rural and suburban applications as well.
During extreme weather events, which we expect to increase in frequency and severity, some parts of the transportation system must be closed including highways, streets and roads, airports, rail, and river transport. These closures have big impacts on freight mobility and workforce communities and in turn, on the state’s economy and jobs. Improving the all-weather capability of our transportation system is vital to ensuring all-season access for our freight and goods system. An inventory and assessment of all-season capabilities can help us to reduce deficiencies with the greatest impact on commerce and economic vitality across the state.
The dynamic knowledge-based economies of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia are giving rise to a strong, mega-regional northwest technology corridor. The potential of this economic collaborative is challenged by mobility issues. Not only must these businesses overcome geographical differences and international border crossings, but they are also challenged by unreliable and inefficient travel on the existing system. To better support economic growth in this sector, the two states and the Canadian province have joined with private sector businesses to explore possible public-private investments that will improve reliable mobility, potentially including a high-speed rail corridor or an autonomous vehicle corridor connecting Seattle to Vancouver, B.C.
Can transportation investments help rebalance the excess demand for housing and jobs in the central Puget Sound region into less congested urban areas elsewhere by increasing system connectivity and freight access to those areas?
That question surfaced during 2040 and Beyond background discussions. It reflects the fact that there are urban centers on the I-5 corridor and elsewhere with additional capacity for growth, consistent with adopted plans. They may lack a connection or intermodal facility needed to attract growth and grow local jobs in close proximity to existing, affordable housing. Dispersing somewhat the concentration of activity to make more effective use of infrastructure along the I-5 corridor can relieve pressure on over-burdened facilities and stimulate economic opportunity in new markets. This isn’t about creating new urban areas but making better use of the ones that exist. Transportation investments can not only help improve mobility but they can also help stimulate desired economic effects.