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AGO 1953 No. 486 - March 02, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

HIGHWAY COMMISSION ‑- POWERS AND DUTIES ‑- TOLL BRIDGE AUTHORITY ‑- DIRECTOR OF HIGHWAYS.

The highway commission has full charge of operation and maintenance of toll bridges and toll ferries throughout the state, but the Toll Bridge Authority also has the power to operate the Puget Sound ferry system.

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                                                                   March 2, 1953 

Washington State Highway Commission
Transportation Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 486

 Attention:  !ttMr. H. C. Higgins,  Secretary

 Gentlemen:

             Receipt of your request for an opinion regarding the highway commission's responsibility relative to the operation and maintenance of toll bridges and toll ferries under chapter 43.27 RCW and chapter 47.56 RCW is hereby acknowledged.  The informal opinion of this office on the same subject, dated February 3, 1953, is hereby withdrawn and superseded by this opinion.

            Our conclusion is that the Washington State Highway Commission has acceded to all powers, authority, functions and duties formerly vested in or required to be performed by the director of highways in relation to toll bridges and toll ferries as a result of RCW 43.27.100 and 43.27.120; that the commission has the responsibility for maintenance and operation of toll bridges and toll ferries; provided, however, that the Washington Toll Bridge Authority is, also, empowered to operate the Puget Sound ferry system.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             RCW 43.27.100, states in part:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The state highway commission is hereby vested with all powers, authority, functions and duties now vested inor required to be performed by the director of highways or the state department of highways.  * * *" (Emphasis supplied).

             The duties and responsibilities placed upon the director of highways by the various toll facility statutes clearly fall within the scope of that provision.  To remove all doubt, RCW 43.27.120 provides in part, that:

             "In all situations wherein the director of highways is now designated as a member of any board, commission, committee,or authority, the state highway commission shall hereafter determine who shall serve as such member."  (Emphasis supplied)

             By this provision, the commission is empowered to designate who shall represent the commission on the authority as constituted by RCW 47.56.020.

             The exclusionary clause in RCW 43.27.100 to the effect that powers, authority, functions and duties specifically granted to the Washington Toll Bridge Authority were not affected, in no way detracts from the responsibilities and duties acceded to by the commission which were formerly clearly placed upon the director of highways in his individual capacity, or inany other capacity.  The use of the word "director" in the exclusionary clause, i.e., "director or department of licenses," refers to the director of licenses and not to the director of highways.

             According to RCW 47.56.030, "The director of highways shall have full charge of the construction of toll bridges authorized by the authority, and the operation andmaintenance thereof * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            RCW 47.56.050 makes operation and maintenance of bridges and ferries acquired by purchase the same as provided for toll bridges.  As previously stated, the commission now has the powers and duties of the director of highways and therefore would have full charge of operation and maintenance or toll bridges and ferries.  The inconsistencies of chapter 47.60 RCW in regard to the establishment of the Puget Sound Ferry and Toll Bridge System cannot be entirely reconciled in this opinion except as to disclosing the overlapping powers in regard tooperation of that particular system.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            RCW 47.60.010 states in part:

             "The Washington toll bridge authority, * * * is authorized to * * * thereafter operate, * * * a system of ferries on and crossing Puget Sound * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            RCW 47.60.140 states in part:

             "The authority is empowered tooperate such ferry system, including all operations, * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

             The section then continues:

             "* * * The director of highways shall havefull charge of * * * operation and maintenance of the ferry system, including toll bridges, approaches and roadways incidental thereto that may be authorized by the authority, * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

             Thus, the Highway Commission has full charge ofoperation and maintenance of all toll bridges and toll ferries, but the authority is also empowered to operate those ferries in the Puget Sound ferry system.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

DON MILES
Assistant Attorney General

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