Transportation planning boundaries to change after being categorized as urban for county

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


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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  • RondaLarsonKramer

    One of the proposed additions to the Urban Area Boundary threatens one of the last remaining remnants of the historic Cowlitz Trail/Oregon Trail. This is on tax parcel no. 11719220101, which is immediately south of 93rd Ave on the corner of Old Highway 99. That parcel is currently forestland whose owners are seeking to pave over the entire parcel as soon as they can get the county to add it to the urban growth area. The owners' proposal is already on the county planning docket ("Bar Holdings" proposal).

    Saturday, September 23, 2023 Report this

  • SecondOtter

    Here it comes, folks. Cities like Tumwater edging every closer to rural areas, once known as "Growth Management Areas (but that phrase has been ''retired). Instead of being satisfied with the expansion it has, instead of being legal, it's paid lobbyists to lard the palms of legislators, and the public be dammed. It's gobbling up farmland, rangeland, forest and prairie. We're being nibbled to death by rats. Once they turn a road like Littlerock or 128th into a four lane highway, it's not longer 'rural,. it's open season on landowners...and we all know that money talks. We'll see warehouses, roundabouts, 'truck stops, 'tickytacky houses shoulder width apart, and all the junkola that make Tumwater like Fife.

    I'm sick of it.

    Sunday, September 24, 2023 Report this

  • Southsoundguy

    This is a direct and natural result of democracy, liberalism, and democratic government control of land value. Municipalities must grow, and they will consume everything in their path. Reject this entire worldview, embrace tradition.

    Sunday, September 24, 2023 Report this

  • lindamayet

    Watching to see if this is a back door step preparing for the new "airport" that news has been interestingly quiet about since last year. I know a new committee was formed, but no other news. In the past I have watched the circle around "talents" of doing things that have an end result that surprises everyone, and laying the groundwork without full disclosure is the way to do business so everyone is caught offguard.. Will be watching with interest.

    Monday, September 25, 2023 Report this