The Freight Action Strategy for the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma corridor (FAST) program was developed more than 15 years ago in the Puget Sound region in Washington State to address growing freight needs. In January 1994, Puget Sound business leaders created a Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable, which included private freight companies and public-sector transportation leaders. The group identified freight mobility issues and solutions. The group also created what they called a Recommended Regional Freight Mobility Action Package. The package was submitted to regional transportation leaders and ultimately became the FAST Corridor Initiative.
The region developed a strategy for prioritizing projects to proactively enhance regional freight mobility instead of waiting to address them when freight volumes increased. By emphasizing the functionality of the region’s freight mobility at a corridor level, the region has been able to make significant progress toward a regional program made up of strategic local investments that have regional results. The program has focused on projects that were too small for the Washington State DOT but too large for municipalities to handle alone. During the past 15 years, the FAST partnership has completed 20 of the original 25 projects on their strategy list. The FAST Corridor Initiative is a case study of how long-term freight quality partnerships can improve the long-term freight performance of a region. It is important to note that these projects did not directly involve improving throughput at the international border crossing located just north of the region.
The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is the MPO for the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett metropolitan area. This region includes the counties of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish, and 82 municipalities. It spans more than 6,300 square miles, and is home to 3.5 million people. The PSRC is charged with planning for regional transportation, land use, and economic development. The FAST Corridor is an area defined within the PSRC region, as exhibited in Figure 42.
The PSRC classifies freight in their region as either locally derived or discretionary (pass-through) freight. Although many regions use these classifications, the distinction is important for the Seattle area because of the region’s projected population growth and the location of two major ports in the area. Both local and discretionary freight are projected to grow significantly.
PSRC estimates that, by 2040, the Seattle-Tacoma region will grow to 5 million residents holding more than 3 million jobs. This represents an addition of 1.5 million residents, which will have a significant impact on urban freight movement and performance, as each new resident will be dependent on freight to deliver food, clothing, and other day-to-day needs. Additionally, the region’s manufacturing, construction, warehousing, and mining industries depend on freight transportation.