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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.