In the 1960’s Thurston County experienced an increased rate of population growth. In the ten-year period between 1960 and 1970, there was a 3.4% annual rate of increase in the total county population. In response to this, the County Commission recognized that there was an increased need to plan the infrastructure necessary to support a quickly growing population. In 1966, Thurston County established by resolution the Thurston County Planning Department and Commission.
Not long after the commission was formed, policymakers began to plan for a regional organization that would include a broader representation of the jurisdictions and special districts in Thurston County. They worked to further the idea of regionalism and considered the kind of organization that would best serve this concept. A document entitled “A Proposal for a Regional Planning Program for the Thurston County Area,” dated August 10, 1967, called for the establishment of a regional planning organization. It explained the need for regional planning because of “the spectacular population growth of the 1950's and 1960’s coupled with the mass exodus of people from rural areas to urban centers.”

It was in this document that the idea of a regional planning organization in Thurston County was officially conceived.  The document set out the need for intergovernmental cooperation as follows:

In most large geographic areas, including Thurston County, the foundation for “regionalism” is intergovernmental cooperation. The attainment of the greatest degree of interaction possible will permit achievement of a high level of communication and understanding and assure through cooperation and pooling of common resources, maximum efficiency and economy in government operations, which will provide every citizen with the utmost value for every tax dollar. Regional planning can be one of the most important first steps in this joint effort.

In November 1967, the Thurston Regional Planning Council was established under RCW 36.70.060 through an agreement between participating cities, towns, and special districts.  In the 50 years of its existence, the Council has evolved with the region it serves.

TRPC Historical Highlights


  • Regional urban planning and rural water and sewer studies
  • Regional comprehensive planning
  • Joint school/park site acquisition program
  • First population and employment forecast
  • Current and advance planning for Thurston County, Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater & Tenino


  • First regional transportation plans
  • Law and justice planning
  • Regional shoreline master program
  • Over-all economic development plan
  • Coordination of stormwater planning
  • Continuation of current and advance planning for Thurston County, Olympia, and Lacey, and assistance to other jurisdictions


  • Urban growth management
  • First Edition of The Profile (1981)
  • Regional Ridesharing and Flex-Time Program report
  • Thurston Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (1982)
  • TRPC Designated a Metropolitan Planning Organization by the Governor (1982)
  • Transportation System Plan for the Thurston Metropolitan Area (1984)
  • Energy conservation planning
  • Amtrak depot site selection
  • Coastal zone management/shoreline planning
  • Rural Public Transportation Study
  • Study of the Public Benefit from Open Space/Open Space Tax Program
  • Industrial lands inventory
  • First Cost of Living Survey
  • Current and advance planning continues for Thurston County and Olympia; Lacey creates in-house planning department


  • Management Options for Groundwater Protection in Thurston County
  • Coordinating Growth Management Act implementation, including
    • Interlocal Memorandum of Understanding on UGA Zoning and Development Standards
    • First county-wide planning policies
  • Transportation Future 2010 – Making Connections (introduced Urban Corridors Concept) (1993)
  • Master Plan for the Capitol of the State of Washington
  • Compilation of school district data
  • TransACTION 2020 Regional Transportation Plan (1998)
  • First benchmarks and indicators to track growth management
  • Report on financing region-wide transportation infrastructure
  • First Household Travel Survey
  • Thurston County and Olympia create in-house planning departments; advance planning continues for Olympia; comprehensive plan updates for Tenino and Rainier


  • Second Regional Benchmarks for Thurston County
  • First report on Buildable Lands with analysis of development densities and land supply
  • 2025 Regional Transportation Plan – Guiding Our Future (2004)
  • Thurston County Land Cover Mapping
  • Tracking Developments in Streams and Wetlands
  • First Multimodal Regional Transportation Model
  • Participation in regional efforts to complete the Chehalis Western Trail
  • Commute Trip Reduction program
  • I-5 Incident Management Planning in the Thurston Corridor
  • Study of the relationships between the visions established in jurisdictional comprehensive plans and how the region is growing and developing
  • Rural and tribal transportation program with fixed and variable bus route service
  • Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for the Thurston Region
  • Regional Trails Plan
  • Small Towns Web Mapping Project
  • Current and advance for Tenino and Rainier; support for Yelm and Olympia advance planning


  • Implementation of Smart Corridors program
  • Sustainable Thurston Plan (2003)
  • Connection of the Chehalis Western Trail over Interstate 5 and two arterials
  • Watershed level land use planning
  • Completion of Urban Corridors Task Force and Corridor/District Studies
  • Update of the County-wide Planning Policies
  • Medic 1 EMS system analysis
  • Local food systems development and education
  • JBLM / I-5 Congestion relief action plan
  • Climate Adaptation plan
  • What Moves You – Regional Transportation Plan 2040 (2016)
  • Continuation of current and advance planning for Tenino and Rainier; Tenino, Rainier, and Bucoda Comprehensive Plan updates