2021 Awardee – City of Olympia Transportation Master Plan
Smart Climate Change Strategies Award: For plans, policies, programs and/or actions addressing community climate impacts.
People have discovered Olympia, in a big way. Washington’s capital city is growing quickly, with about 1,000 new residents moving in every year. They come for work, life and to play outside, leaning into the city’s values and quirky culture. The shifts in where people work since the pandemic also means that small cities like Olympia are becoming destinations for people who can work from anywhere.
Olympia needed a Transportation Master Plan to match its rapid growth while preserving the city’s identity and values. That’s what they’ve got in the new plan, which was the result of a three-year process, said Mayor Cheryl Selby.
“We know that we can grow with grace and in a way that people will still recognize Olympia,” Selby said of the plan.
The city’s Transportation Planning Team led the process, which built in accessibility, technology adaptation, infrastructure demand and social equity.
City staff got creative to encourage input from community members. They changed their outreach tactics during the plan’s development and used interactive online platforms to gather information and feedback. That included real-time data from residents about where they want to go, when, and their preferred method of transportation.
Olympia and surrounding areas are attractive to people who love the outdoors, and the transportation plan was developed through a climate lens, both preserving green space and reducing carbon emissions. That means helping people get out of their vehicles.
As a former downtown small business owner, Selby knows what affects people in the area, including parking, transportation options and safety. Those perspectives were included in the plan, as were other problems the city is facing, such as ensuring affordable housing is near public transit.
“We don’t have a huge downtown. It’s about 20 square blocks,” Selby said. “It’s a massive shift for us to have people living downtown and we needed to make sure we upped our game around mobility so that people can live, work and play in our downtown and get to where they want to go without having to jump in their car.”