Skip to main content


This chapter is included in your selections.

State Context

These transportation policies have been prepared under the authority of RCW 36.70A.210 (3) which states that "A countywide planning policy [CPP] shall as a minimum, address the following... (d) Policies for countywide transportation facilities and strategies". They apply to designated, countywide transportation facilities and services, which are those that serve travel needs and have impacts beyond the particular jurisdiction(s) in which they are located.

Regional Context

VISION 2040 provides a framework for long-range transportation planning in the region by integrating planning for freight, ferries, roads, transit, bicycling, and walking. VISION 2040 recognizes the importance of continued mobility for people, goods, and services. It also recognizes that transportation in our region is the source for approximately half of the greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a primary source of pollution in Puget Sound. As a result, VISION 2040 commits to a sustainable, clean and safe transportation system that increases transportation choices while improving the natural environment.

The multicounty planning policies for transportation are organized around the maintenance, management, and safety of the transportation systems. The policies call for better integrated land use and transportation planning, with a priority placed on transportation investments that serve centers and compact urban communities. An emphasis is also placed on cleaner operations, dependable financing mechanisms transportation, alternatives to driving alone (and reduced vehicle miles traveled), and lower transportation-related energy consumption—which, in turn, lowers particulate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Local Context

Transportation and land use are profoundly interrelated. The type, intensity, and timing of land development will influence the mode of transportation provided, its effectiveness in moving people and goods and the travel behavior of people using the land. Distinctions need to be made between the types and levels of transportation services provided to urban areas and rural areas. People living in low-density areas traveling to employment dispersed throughout the county tend to use the automobile over other modes of transportation.

It is very difficult to serve these types of trips with traditional, fixed route, public transportation (i.e., bus or rail). Public transportation is most effective in moving people where population and employment are concentrated in denser neighborhoods and activity centers. Site design features need to accommodate public transportation allowing efficient access and circulation of transit vehicles.

In order to achieve the long-term growth management goals that are established by Snohomish County Tomorrow, the following overarching principles should guide implementation of the CPPs for multimodal transportation.

Provide a wide range of choices in transportation services to ensure that all citizens have the ability to travel regardless of age, sex, race, income, disability, or place of residence.

Pursue sustainable funding and informed decision-making that recognizes the economic, environmental, and social context of transportation.

Balance the various modes of travel in order to enhance person-carrying capacity, as opposed to vehicle-moving capacity.

Implement efficient levels of service for the various surface transportation modes (i.e., roadways, bikeways, transit, and freight) that are applied effectively to serve different intensities of land development.

Policies related to level of service, transportation location, and design need to be coordinated across state, regional, and local agencies to ensure effective and efficient transportation. We need to ensure that our countywide transportation systems are designed to support the level of land development we allow and forecast while at the same time recognizing and responding to the context in which those systems are located.

The CPPs presented here are intended to guide transportation planning by the County and cities in Snohomish County and to provide the basis for regional coordination with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), and transportation operating agencies.

Transportation Goal

The County and cities will work proactively with transportation planning agencies and service providers to plan, finance, and implement an efficient multi-modal transportation system that supports state-level planning, the Regional Growth Strategy, and local comprehensive plans.

TR-1Jurisdictions should establish agreements and procedures for jointly mitigating traffic impacts, including provisions for development and design review and sharing of developer impact mitigation.

a. Interlocal agreements among the cities and County should be used in Urban Growth Areas and areas proposed for annexation, to define procedures and standards for mitigating traffic impacts, sharing improvement and debt costs for transportation facilities, and addressing maintenance and funding for future transportation facilities and services. These interlocal agreements may also include transit agencies or the Washington State Department of Transportation where mitigation includes transportation demand management strategies or transit related improvements, such as park and ride facilities, bus rapid transit stations, or high-occupancy lanes.

b. Joint development and plan review teams should be formed for major projects having impacts that extend across jurisdictional boundaries.

c. Development impact mitigation should be shared where a project's impacts extend across jurisdictional boundaries.

d. Local comprehensive plans and long-range transit agency plans should provide policies that encourage private sector investment in transportation services and facilities.

e. Local land use regulations should provide for integrated design of transportation facilities in designated urban growth centers to encourage transit-oriented land uses and nonmotorized modes of travel.

TR-2Jurisdictions may designate transportation service areas that provide the geographic basis for joint projects, maintenance, level of service methods, coordinated capital and mitigation programs and finance methods for transportation facilities and services. In these transportation service areas, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the County, cities and transit agencies may coordinate future land use, transportation, and capital facilities planning efforts to ensure consistency between jurisdictional comprehensive plans and long-range transit agency plans.

TR-3In support of VISION 2040, the County and cities should establish agreements and procedures for setting priorities, programming, and financing for countywide, regional and state transportation facilities and services consistent with the Growth Management Act and federal transportation legislation.

a. The County and cities, in coordination with public transit agencies and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), should develop consistent methodologies to determine transportation needs and their estimated costs in terms of capital, operations, preservation, and maintenance.

b. Transportation needs should be prioritized based on the extent to which they fulfill the objectives of the adopted Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), local comprehensive plans, long range transit agency plans, and transportation policies.

c. The Puget Sound Regional Council, WSDOT, County, and cities should maintain an ongoing and coordinated six-year program that specifies the financing of immediate transportation improvements consistent with the RGS, Transportation 2040, and the WSDOT Highway System Plan.

d. The financing of transportation systems and improvements should reflect the true costs of providing service, reflecting the costs and benefits attributable to those who use the system as well as those who benefit from it. Revenues to finance transportation should come from traditional measures (e.g., fuel taxes, property taxes, and impact mitigation fees), but also from other innovative measures (e.g., user fees, high occupancy tolls, Vehicle Miles Travelled assessments, and private-sector contributions). Importantly, impacts of transportation system choices and funding decisions on climate change should be considered as part of this process.

TR-4The County and cities shall provide transportation facilities and services that support the land use elements of their comprehensive plans, including roadway capacities and nonmotorized options together with public transportation services appropriate to the designated land use types and intensities by:

a. Maintaining and improving existing arterials, neighborhood streets, and associated pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure in order to promote safe and efficient use for all modes;

b. Providing a network of multimodal arterials based on a consistent classification system and appropriate design standards that will improve connectivity, circulation, and reduce vehicle miles of travel;

c. Using land use projections based on the Regional Growth Strategy and implemented through local comprehensive plans to identify and plan for adequate roadway, pedestrian, bicycle, and transit services to meet travel needs;

d. Reviewing land use designations where roadway capacity and/or transit service capacity cannot adequately serve or expect to achieve concurrency for development allowed under the designation;

e. Providing adequate access to and circulation for public service and priority for public transportation vehicles will be part of the planning for comprehensive plan land use designations and subsequent development as appropriate; and

f. Consulting with transit agencies, as appropriate, when planning future land use in designated transit emphasis corridors and in the area of high capacity transit stations for consistency with long-range transit agency plans and to ensure that the land use and transit services are mutually supported.

TR-5The County and cities together with the Washington State Department of Transportation should develop consistent transportation design standards for urban and rural areas throughout the County that address public transportation, roadways, ferries, walkways, bikeways, and access for people with disabilities, low-income and special needs populations, and that recognize differences among communities by:

a. Identifying major travel routes needing additional public transportation, pedestrian, or bicycle-related improvements to increase people-carrying capacity;

b. Coordinating local comprehensive plans to develop or complete a system of interconnected walkways and bikeways;

c. Establishing multimodal transportation facility design, level of service standards and site plan design standards that will address the movement of goods and services to enhance the well being of the economy and public health; and

d. Implementing context-sensitive solutions that recognize the variety of functions of transportation facilities and that promote compatibility with adjoining land uses and activities and that create high quality public spaces.

TR-6The County and cities should prepare consistent rules and procedures among affected jurisdictions and transit agencies for locating and designing transportation facilities and services to minimize and mitigate their adverse impacts on the natural environment or resource lands. Depending on the jurisdiction, these may include:

a. Design standards and consistent methods to minimize adverse impacts on shorelines, water resources, drainage patterns, and soils;

b. Location criteria that minimize the disruption to natural habitat, flood plains, wetlands, geologically and other environmentally sensitive areas;

c. Cooperation with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, PSRC, and local jurisdictions to ensure consistency with the transportation control measure requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments; and

d. Measures to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change.

TR-7The County and cities shall employ professionally accepted methodologies for determining transportation levels of service that consider different development intensities for urban centers, other urban areas and rural areas, high-occupancy vehicle use and community values as reflected by the city and County comprehensive plans, and transit agency long range plans.

The County and cities should use – in coordination with transit agencies – a consistent technique in calculating transportation level of service on a systems basis that:

a. Incorporates different levels of service depending on development form, mix of uses and intensity/density of land use, availability and adequacy of transit service, and the availability and adequacy of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in accordance with local comprehensive plans and long range transit agency plans;

b. Employs consistent data collection and processing in determining travel demand and system operations along with the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), adjacent local jurisdictions and transit agencies; and

c. Monitors level of service and concurrency on a routine basis on those critical transportation facilities and services that serve as indicators of system operation.

TR-8The County and cities shall establish concurrency requirements for land development by considering transportation levels of service and available financial resources to make needed transportation improvements.

a. The goals, policies, and objectives of local comprehensive plans shall be the basis for making interpretations of development concurrency with transportation.

b. Level of service shall be used as a growth management tool to limit development in rural areas and offer incentives for more intense development in existing urban areas. Implementation of this policy will require higher levels of service in rural areas than in urban areas.

c. The impact of alternate modes of travel (e.g., pedestrian, bicycle, carpools, vanpools, buses, rail, etc.), as well as single-occupant vehicles, shall be considered in making local concurrency determinations.

d. Recognize there are transportation services and facilities that are at their ultimate capacity.

e. The County and cities will reconsider land use designations where it is evident transportation facilities and services cannot be financed or provided in sufficient time to maintain concurrency with land development. Implementation of this policy will likely require increased density in centers, additional restrictions on rural development, shifting of transportation dollars to projects supporting centers, and lower levels of service and/or inability to maintain concurrency in some areas.

TR-9The County and cities should establish common policies and technical procedures for transportation system management and transportation demand management programs that reduce trip making, total miles traveled, and the climate change and air quality impacts associated with development, and improve the efficiency of the transportation system.

a. The Washington State Department of Transportation, Puget Sound Regional Council, County and cities should establish consistent commute trip reduction, vehicle-miles-of-travel and single-occupant vehicles goals and consistent methods of measuring progress to ensure consistency and equity.

b. The County and cities should coordinate with transit agencies and with each other for the implementation of employer and residential trip reduction programs.

TR-10The County and cities should collaborate with federal, state, and regional agencies, and adjacent counties, cities, and transit agencies to prepare uniform criteria for locating and mitigating the impacts of major countywide and regional transportation facilities and services. These agencies should:

a. Designate transportation facilities of countywide and regional significance;

b. Prepare criteria for locating park-and-ride lots, transit stations, and similar components of a regional transportation system; and

c. Coordinate studies that look at alternative sites with affected public agencies and impacted neighborhoods.

TR-11The County and cities should establish an education program utilizing state, County, transit agency, city transportation resources, and local school districts that encourages use of public transportation. The County and cities, in cooperation with transit agencies, should also establish an ongoing public awareness program for ridesharing and public transportation.

TR-12Each local jurisdiction served by transit should, in cooperation with transit agencies, map the general locations of planned major transit facilities in their comprehensive plans and shall enact appropriate transit-oriented policies and development standards for such locations. Where appropriate, transit-oriented development should encompass the following common elements:

a. Be located to support the development of designated growth centers and existing or planned transit emphasis corridors;

b. Include pedestrian-scale neighborhoods and activity centers to stimulate use of transit and ridesharing;

c. Plan for appropriate intensity and mix of development – including both employment and housing options – that support transit service;

d. Provide safe, pleasant, and convenient access for pedestrians and bicyclists;

e. Provide safe and convenient access and transfer between all forms of transit and other modes of travel; and

f. Promote pricing or regulatory mechanisms20 to encourage transit use and reduce reliance on the automobile.

20Such as metered parking and tolling.

TR-13The County, cities, and transit agencies in the Southwest Urban Growth Area (UGA) should collaborate with Sound Transit to ensure planning and right-of-way preservation for a future phase of light-rail corridor development that will extend to the Everett Regional Growth Center as soon as possible. Planning for light-rail transit should:

a. Be compatible with Sound Transit 2 plans for Snohomish County, which include commitments for stations in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace;

b. Recognize and be compatible with local land use planning and urban design objectives in the Southwest UGA; and

c. Include consideration and evaluation of additional transit services to major employment centers in the Southwest UGA.

TR-14In order to improve transit service throughout the county, cities, the County and transit agencies should evaluate the potential to expand the Public Transportation Benefit Area (PTBA) and/or the Regional Transit District (RTD) to Urban Growth Areas beyond the current boundaries in Snohomish County. This effort should consider the following:

a. Revenues to be generated from the expanded areas;

b. Potential transit service improvements in the expanded PTBA and RTD;

c. Benefits to communities to be added to the PTBA and RTD from improved transit services;

d. Overall countywide benefit to implementing the Regional Growth Strategy and the objectives of city and County comprehensive plans by improving countywide and regional transit services;

e. Roles countywide and regional agencies will assume in providing transit services; and

f. Other relevant factors pertaining to the countywide and regional transportation system.

TR-15The County and cities shall maintain, preserve and operate the existing transportation systems in a safe and usable state. The County and cities should collaborate on maintenance, management, predictable funding and safety practices that:

a. Maintain and operate transportation systems to provide safe, efficient, and reliable movement of people, goods, and services;

b. Protect the investment in the existing system and lower overall life-cycle costs through effective maintenance and preservation programs;

c. Reduce the need for some capital improvements through investments in operations; pricing programs; demand management strategies, and system management activities that improve the efficiency of the current system;

d. Improve safety of the transportation system and, in the long term, pursue the goal of zero deaths and disabling injuries;

e. Protect the transportation system against disaster by developing prevention and recovery strategies and coordinating emergency responses; and

f. Assess and plan for adaptive transportation responses to potential threats and hazards arising from climate change.

TR-16The County and cities, in cooperation with transit operating agencies and the Washington State Department of Transportation, should plan strategically to integrate concepts related to sustainability and climate change in transportation planning, by:

a. Developing and coordinating transportation plans that support land use and other plan elements and contribute to a flexible, holistic and long-term approach to promote sustainability and mitigate impacts contributing to climate change;

b. Maximizing efficiency of existing transportation investments and pursuing measures to reduce vehicle miles of travel and greenhouse gas emissions;

c. Fostering a less polluting system that reduces the negative effects of transportation infrastructure and operation on climate and natural environment;

d. Developing and implementing transportation modes, fuels and technologies that are energy-efficient and reduce negative impacts on the environment;

e. Investing in nonmotorized transportation improvements in and between urban centers;

f. Promoting convenient and low-impact alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles; and

g. Developing a transportation system that minimizes negative impacts to human health.

TR-17The County and cities should collaborate with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and transit operating agencies in order to designate transit emphasis corridors that allow effective and integrated planning of land use and transportation. Transit emphasis corridors – as delineated by local comprehensive plans – should:

a. Be served, or planned to be served, by public transportation;

b. Provide for transit-compatible and transit-oriented land uses and densities in transit emphasis corridors that recognize and reflect appropriate activity zones and walking distances, generally within ¼ to ½ mile of the corridor;

c. Connect all designated mixed-use urban centers;

d. Conform to urban design and infrastructure standards that accommodate and enhance the operations of transit services;

e. Be planned for compact, mixed-use commercial and residential development that is designed to be transit-oriented;

f. Include programs to implement vehicle access management measures that preserve capacity, maintain level of service standards and promote traffic safety;

g. Include transportation control measures, transportation demand management programs, and transportation system management programs to reduce travel delay and vehicle-miles of travel; and

h. Promote consistency between County, city, WSDOT, and transit agency long-range transportation plans.

TR-18The County and cities, in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation and port authorities, should plan and implement projects and programs to promote freight mobility and access needs being addressed through:

a. Coordinated design and construction of regional and local transportation facilities that support manufacturing and international trade;

b. Traffic operations measures and capital improvements that minimize the impacts of freight movement on other modes of travel;

c. Maintenance, preservation, and expansion of freight rail capacity;

d. Establishment of interjurisdictional programs aimed at preserving rail rights-of-way; and

e. Special efforts to ensure any ongoing conflicts and other needs are planned for and resolved to the greatest extent possible.

TR-19The County and cities should prepare compatible rules and procedures among affected jurisdictions and transit agencies for locating transportation facilities and services to minimize and mitigate potential adverse impacts on low income, minority, and special need populations.

TR-20The County and cities, in cooperation with transit agencies, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and port authorities, should plan and design transportation facilities and services to efficiently interface with waterborne and air transportation terminals and facilities. It is intended that these efforts would:

a. Promote a seamless transportation system for all modes of travel;

b. Emphasize multi-modal intersection points at efficiently designed terminals;

c. Lead to coordinated fare and ticketing systems;

d. Benefit local transportation systems by reducing traffic volumes or improving traffic flows; and

e. Accommodate and complement existing and planned local land use patterns.

TR-21The County and cities, in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation (as appropriate), shall coordinate in planning, designing programming, and constructing nonmotorized transportation facilities in Snohomish County. The County and affected cities recognize a need for:

a. Bikeway and walkway standards that are compatible among affected jurisdictions;

b. Joint planning to achieve continuous and/or direct bicycle routes between cities and major centers in Snohomish County and the region;

c. Joint planning for a safe system of bicycle and pedestrian facilities that link residential areas, schools, recreational areas, business districts, and transit centers and facilities; and

d. New development to accommodate nonmotorized transportation facilities in its site planning.

TR-22The County and cities, in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation and transit operating agencies, should preserve existing freight and passenger railroad rights-of-way for continued rail transportation use.

TR-23The County, along with affected cities, should cooperate in efforts to acquire and/or purchase abandoned railroad right-of-way in order to preserve options for alternative transit corridors, such as commuter rail, between growth centers in or adjacent to Snohomish County.21 The County and affected cities recognize that:

a. Interim or co-existing uses, such as freight rail, nonmotorized transportation, and recreational activities need to be considered and planned in conjunction with commuter rail service;

b. Compatible land use types and densities need to be strategically planned at key locations to support the rail corridors; and

c. Impacts on resource lands, the natural environment, and the community shall be considered with regard to preservation and use of abandoned railroad rights-of-way.

21One example is a potential link between the cities of Woodinville and Snohomish.

TR-24The County and cities should encourage transit supportive land uses in non-contiguous Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) in order to help preserve transit service between non-contiguous UGAs.