Transportation in any state is a complicated issue – populations in urban areas are increasing, more people are commuting 30 miles or more to work, many of the goods we eat and buy are shipped via truck or rail from other parts of the world, and many communities are driving on roads designed for far fewer people. Add in the need to negotiate around mountains, rivers, and the Puget Sound, and you have an idea of the complex nature of transportation planning in Washington.
Without an efficient transportation system, a port is unable to grow: goods must be able to reach their destination quickly and efficiently. Most retailers now utilize a “just in time” inventory system – rather than keeping a large backlog of items, they schedule them to arrive exactly when needed. And if those goods are stuck in traffic – or stuck on a rail line somewhere – the retailer can’t sell them. Imagine businesses all across the state unable to get the goods they need, and you begin to see that the transportation network is the skeleton of a state’s economy.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is the primary agency for coordinating transportation improvements in the state. Because of recent legislation providing more funding for transportation improvements, WSDOT is busy with road improvements all across the state. They’re currently studying the state’s airports, determining where and when more capacity will be needed. And they’re also studying our rail stock – determining where the chief bottlenecks are in the state’s system.
Many other regional agencies contribute to the state’s transportation planning. For more information on how WSDOT and others determine transportation needs, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov.