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AGO 1952 No. 417 - October 15, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

HIGHWAYS ‑- FERRY SLIP AND DOCK AREAS.

Purchase of ferries and leasing of ferry terminals changes status of ferry slips and dock area approaches from private to public highways.

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                                                                October 15, 1952 

Honorable John C. Merkel
Prosecuting Attorney
Kitsap County
307 Dietz Building
Bremerton, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 417

 Attention:  Mr. Farrell E. Cook, Deputy 

Dear Sir: 

            On September 24, 1952, you requested an opinion of this office on the following question:

             "Did the purchase of the ferries and the purchase or leasing of the ferry terminals by the State of Washington change the status of the ferry slip and dock area so as to constitute them a public highway subject to the traffic code?"

             Our conclusion is as follows:

             The purchase of ferries and the leasing of ferry terminals by the State of Washington changed the status of the ferry slips and dock area approaches to constitute them public highways subject to the traffic code.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             A public highway is defined by RCW 46.04.430 as follows:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "'Public highway' includes every way, land, road, street, boulevard, and every way or place in the state open as a matter of right to public vehicular travel both inside and outside the limits of cities and towns.  [(i) 1943 c 153 § 1, part; 1937 c 188 § 1, part; Rem. Supp. 1943 § 6312-1, part (ii) 1937 c 189 § 1, part; RRS § 6360-1, part.]"

             This definition is all inclusive as it includes "every way or place in the state open as a matter of right to public vehicular travel."

             A private road is defined by RCW 46.04.420 as follows:

             "'Private road or driveway' includes every way or place in private ownership and used for travel of vehicles by the owner of those having express or implied permission from the owner, but not by other persons.  [1937 c 189 § 1, part; RRS § 6360-1, part.]"

             The leasing of the ferry terminals by the State of Washington transferred the ferry slop and dock area from private ownership to public ownership during the time of the lease.  The effect of this transfer was to bring the ferry slip and dock area under the broad definition of public highway,supra.

             The State of Washington Highway Patrol has jurisdiction to enforce size, weight and load restrictions of vehicles travelling over the public highways.  RCW 43.43.030, L. 1933 c. 25, sec. 2; RCW 46.44.100, c. 189 § 56, Laws of 1937.

 Very truly yours,
 SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ELLIS L. COLLINS
Assistant Attorney General

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