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State transportation commission starts online discussion forums and survey

The Washington State Transportation Commission has launched the "Voice of Washington State" to get public input on state transportation policies.

The new public engagement program includes seven regional online discussion forums and an online survey panel. Commission officials are asking state residents to log on to www.voiceofwashingtonstate.org to sign up and share input on how to improve the state’s transportation system.

Individuals can join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums and publicly voice their opinions, post ideas and interact with other citizens in their community.

They can also join the VOWS Survey Panel to participate in occasional online surveys.

“Sparking a robust conversation around transportation issues, and collecting survey data that indicates people’s opinions and thoughts on policy and funding approaches, will help decision makers identify possible solutions and investment priorities,” said Reema Griffith, executive director of the commission. “When people share what matters to them when they drive, ride, bike, walk or fly within their communities, their needs can be more effectively addressed.”

The ultimate goal, officials said, is to gather public input on Washington state transportation policy and funding and to inform the statewide discussion and decision-making process.

Topics for discussion will focus on all things transportation: highways, ferries, mass transit, freight and high-speed rail, barges and aviation. The governor and Legislature will be briefed on the ideas and data generated through the online discussion forums and surveys.

Officials said the combination of the online survey and the regional online discussion forums is a new outreach strategy for the commission. While the commission has conducted successful phone and email surveys through the Ferry Riders Opinion Group, called FROG, for a few years, the primary community input tool has been public meetings.

According to the commission, the online approach will remove the distance and travel barriers that come with holding public meetings. Now people will be able to share their views no matter where they live.

The seven regional discussion forums are West (Region 1); North Puget Sound (Region 2); Central Puget Sound (Region 3); Southwest (Region 4); Central (Region 5); Northeast (Region 6); and Southeast (Region 7). Discussions within each forum will focus on both region-specific issues as well as statewide topics, such as roads and pedestrian safety.

Any Washington state resident is eligible to join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums or the VOWS Survey Panel. Registration is limited to one email address per person; submission of the person’s name, email address and county is all that is required to set up a VOWS account for participation.

To learn more about the WSTC, go to www.wstc.wa.gov.

 

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