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Program Overview

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments (CWCOG) is the lead agency for a bi-state MPO, comprised of the urbanized area of Longview and Kelso, Washington and (crossing over the Columbia River) the city of Rainier, Oregon. The urbanized area, originally designated as an MPO in 1982 by federal and state governments, covers an area of over 66,000 people. The Cowlitz area Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) accomplishes much of the groundwork prior to CWCOG consideration.

The CWCOG, as the lead agency for long-range transportation planning, is instrumental in the planning for major transportation network improvements that are implemented by the participating local governments. As a result of this planning over the past 15 years, the urban area has generated over $100 million in actual projects. These include two bridges (Allen Street and Lexington) and one freeway interchange upgrade (I-5/SR 432/Talley Way). Currently, there are several projects in Longview and Woodland that are goingthrough preliminary design, engineering and environmental work.

The transportation planning staff works closely with local agencies, ports, and private sector representatives and stakeholders in the development of the long-range transportation planning activities for the urbanized area. CWCOG staff assists RiverCities Transit, the local transit system, with the development of a ten-year Transit Enhancement Plan to determine future transit service for the urban area. Also underway is the development of a Transportation System Plan for the MPO area.

CWCOG staff also develops the urban area transportation improvement program (TIP), assists in the allocation of federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds, and updates the Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Funding for these activities primarily comes from state and federal sources with a match provided by local jurisdictions. A bi-annual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) is developed to guide the MPO and Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization (SWRTPO) work program.

Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization (SWRTPO)

CWCOG is the lead agency for the five-county Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization comprised of Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. Regional Transportation Planning Organizations were enabled by the legislature in 1992 to allow counties to voluntarily group together and provide regional transportation planning services. RTPO activities are supported by state funds.

CWCOG transportation planning staff works with the local agencies in the five-county area to carry out regional transportation planning activities covering a wide array of transportation-related issues. CWCOG collaborates with the five counties to prioritize transportation needs and assists in securing funds to complete projects that keep the regional transportation network up to date.

Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments MPO & RTPO Organizational Chart

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Cowlitz Area Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)

The Cowlitz Area TAC is comprised of engineers and planners representing local jurisdictions, special purpose districts, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The TAC provides staff level input to the activities being undertaken and forwards its recommendations for adoption by the CWCOG Board. The TAC provides policy review and guidance to activities and projects that will require action or adoption by the Boards and/or local jurisdictions. The TACs assist CWCOG staff in developing the annual work program, as well as the Regional Transportation Improvement Program.

Meeting Minutes
January January 2014
February No Meeting
March March 2014
April April 2014
May May 2014
June June 2014
September September 2013
October October 2013
November November 2013
December No Meeting

SW Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization Board of Directors

The SWRTPO is comprised of one county commissioner from each participating county, representatives from participating cities, port district representatives, administrators from two  Washington State Department of Transportation regions, and legislators from districts 18, 19, 20, 24 and 35.

The board is responsible for developing and adopting the Regional Transportation Plan and a planning work program through which the RTPO addresses transportation issues in a coordinated and cooperative manner. For Lewis and Pacific counties, the board certifies that transportation elements in local comprehensive plans are consistent with the regional plan. The CWCOG contracts directly with the Grays Harbor Council of Governments and the Lewis County Transportation Strategy Council to conduct transportation planning activities in those counties. CWCOG staff is responsible for transportation planning in Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Pacific counties.

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Plans & Studies

Transportation Systems Plan (TSP)

A TSP study will make possible a comprehensive evaluation of the detailed operations for all aspects of the transportation system in the Kelso-Longview study area, including street, parking, transit, pedestrian, bicycle and freight mobility (trucking and rail). This study was recently funded through the Cowlitz County MPO, for the Kelso-Longview metropolitan area.

The region’s transportation facilities serve more than 50,000 residents as well as many visitors and regional travelers. Preserving and developing the region’s transportation facilities will involve multi-disciplinary staff teams, multiple jurisdictions, private entities and developers, and the community. This TSP will provide a clear vision for the future of the transportation network. A cohesive plan ensures integrated and consistent transportation system development across jurisdictions and over time.

The TSP is expected to guide the development of a sustainable transportation system that supports the land use vision, provides transportation choices, promotes active living by design, guides development impact resolution, outlines arterial design standards, and integrates with the natural and built environment.

  1. Final Draft of the Kelso-Longview Great Streets Concept (44 MB)

2014-2035 Interim Update of the Metropolitan and Regional Transportation Plan (M/RTP)

The M/RTP is a 20-30 year look into the future that covers the five-county SWRTPO area. The MTP is a long range plan that covers the same planning period for the MPO urban area.  The M/RTP is written as one document and sets the vision for long-term transportation needs of the region. The appendix can be viewed here.

Woodland Transportation Infrastructure Strategic Plan (WTISP)

The WTISP was adopted April 2009.  Stakeholders for the plan include:  Washington State Department of Transportation, City of Woodland, Port of Woodland, Cowlitz County and Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments.

The strategic plan outlines a series of highway and rail/grade separation projects for the I-5 corridor through Woodland.  The plan has several major components:

  • Re-connect Scott Avenue beneath I-5 and also extend into Port of Woodland with a grade-separated roadway over the BNSF mainline.  This is accomplished by raising I-5 between Exits 21 and 22.  This project redirects 35 percent of the local traffic currently utilizing the Exit 21 interchange.  The project also provides direct access to the Port of Woodland on a grade-separated rail crossing. 
  • Complete a series of improvements at Exit 21 to move the traffic more smoothly to and from I-5 into Woodland and SR 503 corridor.
  • Provide turn lanes along SR 503 at three key intersections:  Gun Club, Insel and Hillshire Roads, greatly improving the safety and access for residents and visitors to the Lewis River Valley recreation area.

Public Involvement Plan (PIP)

The SWRTPO/MPO’s Public Involvement Plan outlines the methods for public participation and outreach strategies for transportation planning programs and activities.

2015-2018 Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

The RTIP is a compilation of the first four years of the six-year Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs) from local jurisdictions throughout the five-county region.  This document includes a listing of all federally funded projects in the region, and planned projects whether federally funded or not.

Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan

This plan is developed to respond to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Washington State  Department of Transportation (WSDOT) requirements that all transit projects funded by FTA programs serve the transportation needs of the transit dependent (i.e. low income, elderly and disabled persons) and include them in a coordinated transit plan.  The plan was originally adopted in 2007 and updated in 2010.  Chapter four, which includes the prioritized list of projects in the region, was amended in 2012. 

Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)

The annual UPWP is a federally required statement of how state and federal funds will be used for transportation planning purposes by the COG during the next fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). The program is developed by COG transportation planning staff in cooperation with our RTPO/MPO member agencies and the WSDOT Southwest Region, and is reviewed by the FHWA, FTA and WSDOT before being presented to the COG Board for adoption. The document outlines the regional transportation work program and must follow guidelines set forth in state and federal regulations.

Scenic Byways

The Southwest Washington RTPO area includes some of the state’s most scenic amenities, from the Lower Columbia River communities in Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Pacific counties, SR 504/Spirit Lake Memorial Highway to Mount St. Helens, the US 101 Coastal Corridor in Pacific and Grays Harbor counties, SR 109 Hidden Coast along the Pacific Ocean in Grays Harbor County, and White Pass Scenic Byway in Lewis and Yakima counties.  The following links offer more information regarding Washington Scenic Byways.

West Main Street Realignment

The West Main Realignment project area is from the west end of the Allen Street Bridge, to the Kelso city limits at Cowlitz Way.  The project stems from growing traffic, congestion and accidents along the corridor. The Council of Governments initiated the Longview/Kelso Urban Area Access management Implementation Strategic Plan, which was the precursor to the West Main Realignment project. The Kelso City Council selected Alternative 3A as the preferred alternative.

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Data / Information

Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)

SWRTPO is allocating TAP funds to projects that support objectives of the Regional Transportation Plan and which can proceed with project delivery on a committed schedule. A total of $1,292,756 is available to the five-county SWRTPO area.  For those interested in the funding availability, please see the official guidance below.

Southwest Region Washington State Department of Transportation Projects:

  • For the most up-to-date information on the SR 432 project, visit the project website at

Access Management Program

Regional Trails

Urban Maps

Map of Five County Area

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Cowlitz Area TAC meets 1st Thursday of every month at 3:30 pm at the Cowlitz County Public Works Building.

Contact the COG Office for date, location and time of the next SWRTPO Board of Directors meeting.

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Local Regional National
RiverCities Transit, RCT Washington State Department of Transportation, WSDOT Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, AMPO
Grays Harbor Council of Governments, GHCOG Southwest Region Washington State Department of Transportation Federal Housing Administration, FHA
Lewis County Public Works Department Southwest Washington Regional Airport National Association of Regional Councils, NARC
Pacific County Economic Development Council, PCEDC Columbia County Public Transit (CC Rider) Transportation Research Board, TRB
    West Coast Corridor Coalition, WCCC

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Contact Staff

For further information, please contact us at, or call 360.577.3041.

Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments
Administration Annex
207 4th Avenue North
Kelso, WA 98626

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Matt Buchanan, Community Development Planner/Transportation
  • Judith Donovan, Transportation Planner

Directions to our office

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