Programs to help reduce vehicle trips in some of Thurston County’s smaller communities are on the way.
The Thurston Regional Planning Council received a $2.1 million grant this week from the federal Department of Energy for projects aimed at cutting miles traveled to and from targeted schools, work centers and neighborhoods by 15 percent.
Transportation accounts for 50 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions in South Sound, and the initiatives are a way to improve air quality and tackle climate change, said Lon Wyrick, executive director of the planning council.
Communities eligible for the projects funded by federal recovery funds include Tumwater, Yelm, Tenino, Rainier and Bucoda.
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“It’s a great opportunity to build on projects in place now in Olympia and Lacey,” Wyrick said.
The projects include:
• Picking two elementary schools in the Tumwater and Yelm districts to participate in programs for students to safely walk, bike and bus to school, rather than be dropped off by parents in vehicles.
A recent survey by Intercity Transit found that one of the main reasons 22 percent of commuters drove to work was to drop their children off at school.
• Expanding commute trip-reduction programs, including to schools, office buildings and churches in the Tumwater town center area.
• Working with the Legislature and governor’s office on policies and plans that encourage increased telecommuting and compressed workweeks.
• Working on new strategies to encourage in-filling and redevelopment so people can live closer to their work sites.
• Creating a website with information about alternative transportation options, including biking and walking maps, information about transit and ride-sharing and services for people with special transportation needs.
“These kinds of innovative programs play an integral part in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and getting us on a path to a clean-energy future,” U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., said in announcing the grant award.
John Dodge: 360-456-3377 email@example.com