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Sustainability in Land Use and Transportation

Land Use & Transportation is committed to managing land development and the County road system in a sustainable, environmentally sound manner.


"Active" Transportation:

Our continuing focus on bike and pedestrian travel and trail designs supply safe, healthy opportunities for people to walk, bike and roll, rather than drive, throughout Washington County. Bike lanes, sidewalks, multiuse paths and trails are alternatives to vehicle travel. Reducing vehicle travel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Our road improvement designs often include bioswales for stormwater treatment. Our bioswales use gravel and hardy, native plants that encourage growth of natural organisms that filter and clean water that runs off of roads. Bioswales need no mechanics and little or no maintenance. They work invisibly to limit the impact of road runoff on the stormwater system and to improve the health of groundwater.

Fish Passage Culverts

We replace aging culverts with fish-passage culverts, when needed. These culverts have a built streambed that mimics natural conditions. This helps to support fish habitats and encourages diversity of species.

Our Fish Passage Programmatic Agreement with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife allows us to work on roadway stream crossing projects without project-by-project regulatory approval.

Recycling materials:

We reuse streetlight and traffic signal poles to reduce both cost and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of these products. In addition, we “recycle in place” when paving roads, by grinding off the top inches asphalt, heating it and combining it with new asphalt and before applying.

Energy efficient signals:

We use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which use less electricity in our traffic signals. We use solar-powered flashers for school crossings. And we regularly retime and coordinate traffic signals to make them run more efficiently.

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Technology:

Intelligent Transportation Systems Logo

Our ITS technology to improves both safety and the environment. For example, our adaptive traffic signal controls allow us to adjust traffic signals based on real-time traffic needs. This reduces traffic congestion and vehicle emissions caused by vehicle idling. This same traffic signal technology is used to better manage bicycle and pedestrian travel.

Our ITS traffic signals can also supply through-traffic signal priority for buses, which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which improving TriMet reliability and efficiency.

Land Use

Significant Natural Resources Planning:

We researched and wrote Significant Natural Resources Program Review and Assessment to guide changes to County regulations to address environmental issues related to development. Based on this research, the Board of Commissioners has adopted Habitat Assessment Guidelines and A-Engrossed Land Use Ordinance 869, which amended several County planning documents and the Community Development Code.

Encouraging Use of Public Transportation:

First and Last Mile Project Logo

Encouraging people to take public transportation, is important to us. Improving safety at, and access to, bus and light rail stops is a key part our transportation and transit planning. Our First and Last Mile study strategies and our Transit Development Plan goals are helping us focus on ways to make public transportation safer and more convenient so there can be fewer cars on the roads and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Greening the Code:

In 2009, Washington County received a U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant as part of a stimulus bill to create the Greening the Code report to provide direction to update codes to reflect sustainability. Emphasis included energy production and conservation; stormwater, water quality and water conservation; and green buildings and construction practices.