The Thurston Regional Planning Council – Technical Advisory Committee (TRPC-TAC) approved the proposed adjustment to the urban area boundaries set by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at its Thursday, September 21 meeting.
TRPC Senior Planner Michael Ambrogi announced the recently completed review of the region's federal urban area boundaries. He explained that the FHWA urban areas establish eligibility for transportation planning, operational, and funding purposes.
The urban area boundaries, Ambrogi said, determines the federal functional road classification. These boundaries are closely associated with funding requirements for various programs such as the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG), Transportation Alternatives (TA), and Carbon Reduction Programs (CRP). Each of these programs has specific funding targets tied to urban areas versus rural areas.
"We have an opportunity to adjust these areas. We have some discretion over where they are," Ambrogi said, adding that Metropolitan Planning Organization/Washington State Department of Transportation (COP/WSDOT) can modify the boundaries collaboratively.
TRPC met with staff from Thurston County, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Yelm, to review the proposed urban areas and discuss potential adjustments.
At his presentation, Ambrogi presented a map showing a proposed addition to the Federal Highways urbanized area boundary. All perimeter roadways, except for 138th Avenue SW between Guava Street SW and Sargent Road SW in Ground Mound, are proposed to be urban.
Ambrogi noted WSDOT's key requirements for establishing adjusted urban area boundaries. Among them is the inclusion of the Census Bureau, designating the area as urbanized.
The Census Bureau updates these urbanized area designations every ten years based on population and density thresholds.
The WSDOT also requires to include areas likely to urbanize over the next decade and major transportation facilities connected to urban areas.
"They want us [WSDOT] to define contiguous urban areas, to minimize gaps and holes and continuity along roadways so you're not going from urban to rural and urban," Ambrogi added.
Ambrogi said they will send the approved boundaries proposal to WSDOT by the end of this month.
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