County seeks input on transit options, infrastructure in rural Washington County

A Columbia County Rider bus stops at one of two bus stations in Banks on April 15, 2019. Photo: Chas Hundley

WASHINGTON COUNTY – An online survey released on Friday, October 2 by Washington County and Ride Connection Inc., a regional public transportation nonprofit, is asking for feedback on the county’s Transit Development Plan as it pertains to transit in rural Washington County. 

The results of that survey could drive how much funding from the state’s “Keep Oregon Moving” plan (House Bill 2017) the county receives for projects and programs in Banks, Gaston, North Plains, and rural unincorporated Washington County.

The survey, structured as an online open house, walks participants through a number of existing transit services in rural Washington County; notably, Gales Creek and other unincorporated areas do not have any bus services, with residents who do not have transportation relying only on limited door-to-door services operated by Ride Connection. A Tillamook County-operated bus line (Ride The Wave) drives through Gales Creek on Highway 6, but does not have a stop in the region, though it and several others do have stops in Banks, and when the Tillamook Forest Center is open, a stop exists there as well. 

The Tillamook Forest Center is currently closed due to COVID-19 safety measures. 

After viewing the information, users are taken to an 18-question survey. All told, the survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete, according to Washington County.

Other ideas and potential projects in the map include projects to complete gaps in sidewalks, bike lanes, ADA ramps and more; improve certain “key transit stops,” signage, and more. 

Once the survey closes and is finalized, a committee of local leaders — including current Banks Mayor Pete Edison — will use the input to assist in developing a plan for delivery to the Washington County Board of Commissioners. 

In November, the commissioners are expected to endorse the plan and include it in the Tri-County Public Transportation Improvement Plan (PTIP), which will then fall into the wheelhouse of TriMet, where, after an approval process, it will be sent to the Oregon Department of Transportation in February 2021. 

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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