You don’t need to tell the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council that local traffic congestion is bad and getting worse.

The agency is in the middle of a Congestion Management Process that will take a closer look at conditions on Clark County roadways. Among the initial findings presented at this week’s RTC board meeting: Delays on both the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 bridges have “significantly increased” in recent years. And there are eight corridors in the Vancouver area, including I-5, where speeds are routinely below 60 percent of the posted speed limit. (I-5 is by far the worst, at just 22 percent of the speed limit during the southbound morning commute out of Vancouver.)

The process will ultimately develop strategies for how solve the region’s congestion woes. That’s an area where the agency should place more of an emphasis, according to one RTC board member.

Following the presentation at this week’s meeting, Clark County Councilor David Madore said the Congestion Management Process “seems to be focusing on passive observation.”

“I would like to be able to see us actually focus on a solution,” Madore said. “According to this, things are getting worse, much worse, and we’re not necessarily doing anything about it.”

That’s when Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick responded.

“We do have a plan and a solution,” she said, “and that’s the Columbia River Crossing.”

Um, good luck with that.

Craddick alluded to the RTC’s 2035 Regional Transportation Plan, which still includes a $3.3 billion “I-5 corridor improvement project” that looks an awful lot like the CRC. That project, of course, began its death spiral when Washington walked away from it in 2013. The failed I-5 Bridge replacement plan remains dead and buried.

When Vancouver City Councilor Larry Smith later weighed in, he referred to the project, perhaps more astutely, in past tense.

“There was a solution. It was called the CRC,” Smith said. “That was the solution worked on over 15 years.”

Worsening congestion in the region shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, Smith said. Those conditions are the very reason the CRC process got started in the first place, he added.

“So we’re back where we are again,” he said.

Pretty much everyone agrees something needs to be done on I-5. But as long as leaders continue clinging to the CRC, it’s likely not going to happen any time soon.

Eric Florip

Eric Florip

I'm the environment/transportation reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. Contact me at or 360-735-4541.

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