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The Washington Transportation Commission on Tuesday will discuss the I-5 System Partnership, a body working to identify potential options to improve I-5 mobility.

OLYMPIA — Population growth, technology and the future of transportation are topics scheduled for discussion at the Washington State Transportation Commission meeting next week in Olympia.

How to address the capacity limitations at Sea-Tac International Airport, potential options to improve Interstate 5 mobility and cutting edge research at the University of Washington on crash reduction, traffic flow and traffic operations will be spotlighted.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Ave. SE, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. The meeting is open to the public and persons wishing to speak to the commission may do so during public comment periods.

Tuesday’s meeting begins with a briefing from the Port of Seattle on its expansion plans for Sea-Tac International Airport, one of the fastest-growing major airports in the nation. Designed to accommodate 56 million passengers and meet the forecasted passenger demand to 2027, plans include a new terminal with 19 gates, and an automated people mover with three stations to connect the rental car facility, new terminal and main terminal. 

Even with the planned Sea-Tac Airport expansion, air travel demand has spurred the Puget Sound Regional Council to begin a two-year “Regional Aviation Baseline Study” of current and future aviation needs and capacities.

Regional council Executive Director Josh Brown will describe how the study will identify the roles of every airport and the aviation activities within the region to set the stage for future planning.

Greenroads and The Nature Conservancy, two nonprofit groups applying sustainable design and engineering to reduce impacts from transportation, will give a presentation featuring their work in the state and elsewhere. Examples include stormwater capture and treatment, noise reduction and landscape management.

The commission on Tuesday afternoon will learn about the I-5 System Partnership, a body working to identify potential options to improve I-5 mobility.

The I-5 System Partnership is made up of representatives from transportation agencies, the business community, and jurisdictions throughout the 107-mile study area between Tumwater and Marysville. The governor’s proposed budget includes $2.5 million to develop a long-range master plan that will consider, among other things, a comprehensive look at the future of I-5 and the regional HOV lane system.

At the same time that population growth poses challenges for highway mobility, technology is making cars safer and changing how cities design their infrastructure. Professor Yinhai Wang, director of the University of Washington’s Smart Transportation Applications and Research Lab, will give a presentation focused on automation and intelligent transportation systems. 

STAR Lab leverages transportation data to understand underlying travel and traffic patterns and behavior in surface transportation. Its work is intended to reduce crashes and improve traffic flow. As an example, one of STARLab’s studies has developed a framework to automatically detect vehicle-pedestrian near misses.

The commission on Wednesday will hear an update on the road-usage charge pilot project. The live pilot test of road usage charging closed in January, and now work will turn to reviewing pilot data, participant survey analysis, focus group comments and developing policy recommendations, which will be released later this year. The commission will review draft road-usage charge policy options, and early results of the final survey of pilot participants.

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