County Transportation Metrics is a project of the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) and will provide a roadmap for setting transportation priorities.

Thurston County

Thurston County is named after Samuel R. Thurston, the Oregon Territory's first delegate to US Congress. The county seat is at Olympia, the state capital and the county's largest city. The county is located on the southern end of Puget Sound in Western Washington. It is the seventh smallest county in terms of landmass, but the sixth most populous.

Native Americans date back to the area at least 3,000 years. In 1833, the first Europeans settled in the area and in 1845, the first white American settlers arrived. Lumber, coal and sandstone mining were the dominant industries until the 1920s. When the state capitol was completed in 1927, state government surpassed lumber as the leading employer. Logging mills closed in the 1960s.

Thurston County's population began to rapidly increase during the 1950s and by the 1970s the communities of Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey blended into an extended metropolitan area. The county's population was 44,884 in 1950. Today it exceeds 254,000. With the growth in population, construction has boomed. This boom was particularly noticeable in the 1980s when many office buildings, three new state buildings and many homes and schools were constructed.

Government continues to dominate the county economy, representing 40 percent of employment. The trade sector has also flourished, with employment increasing 226 percent between 1970 and the end of the 1990s, particularly in the retail sector. Population migration into the county and from the greater Seattle-Tacoma area continues to add fuel to the urbanization of the county.

Population (OFM Databook, 2011) 

Population (2011) 254,100
Population Change (2000 to 2010)      1.7%
Land Area (Sq. Mi.) 721.96
Density (Population/Sq. Mi.) 351.96


Bucoda                                                     560
Lacey 42,830
Olympia 46,780
Rainier 1,825
Tenino     1,700

Major Highways

  • Interstate 5
  • State Route 507
  • State Route 510
  • US Route 12
  • US Route 101

County Roads (CRAB and OFM, 2011)

Total Center Lane Miles
Maintenance Expenditures
$ 11,030,995
Preservation Expenditures
$ 14,413,429
Improvement Expenditures
$ 1,601,492

County Revenues  & Expenditures (OFM Databook, 2011)

Total Revenues
$ 314,858,690
Total Expenditures
$ 248,013,694
Transportation Expenditures
$ 23,971,381

Performance Measures

Links & Sources

Washington State Association of Counties
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