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AGO 1951 No. 91 - July 24, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

MAINTENANCE OF THOSE STREETS WHICH HAVE BEEN DESIGNATED AS A ROUTE OF A PRIMARY OR SECONDARY STATE HIGHWAY THROUGH INCORPORATED CITIES AND TOWNS

The Director of Highways is obligated to maintain those streets which he has designated as a route of a primary or secondary state highway through incorporated cities and towns.

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                                                                    July 24, 1951

Honorable Reuben C. Youngquist
Prosecuting Attorney
Skagit County
Mount Vernon, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 91

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion in regard to the following question:

            Does Rem. Rev. Stat. No. 6450-61 relieve a municipality from the duty to maintain and repair a primary state highway running through the said municipality, where the highway has been designated by the Director of Highways as a primary state highway?

            Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

            Section 61, chapter 187 of the Laws of 1937, as last amended by section 5, chapter 220, Laws of 1949 (Rem. Supp. section 6450-61), requires the Director of Highways to maintain those city streets which have been designated by him as a part of the route of a primary or secondary state highway through an incorporated city or town.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Rem. Supp. 1949, section 6450-61, provides in part as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The Director of Highways shall determine what city streets, together with bridges thereon and wharves necessary for use for ferriage of motor vehicle traffic in connection with such streets, if any, in any incorporated cities and towns shall form a part of the route of any primary or secondary state highway through such incorporated cities and towns, and, between the first and fifteenth days of April of each year, shall certify by brief description, in duplicate, one copy to the State Auditor and one copy to the clerk of each incorporated city and town, which streets, together with bridges thereon and wharves, if any, in such city or town are designated as forming a part of the route of a primary or secondary state highway through such city or town; and all such streets, including curbs and gutters and street intersections and such bridges and wharves, shall be constructed and maintained by the Director from any state funds available therefor."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            The underlined portion of the referenced statute seems clear and unambiguous in its requirement that the Director of Highways maintain those streets which he has designated as a route of a primary or secondary state highway through an incorporated city or town, and thus relieves the city of its former obligation.

            The following provisions of the pertinent statute extensively enumerate the respective jurisdiction and control of the Director and the city or town.  The obligation of the Director to maintain the subject street is qualified to the extent that it does not extend beyond the curbs or beyond the traveled portion, if no curbs are established, by subsection (b).

            Subsection (e) requires the city or town to repair all damage occasioned by its granting permission for the opening of said streets.

            Cleaning and snow removal, with the exception of plowing, are required to be performed by the city or town by subsection (f).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            However, as to ordinary maintenance, the city has been relieved of its obligation to maintain, which obligation has devolved upon the Director of Highways.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

PAUL SINNITT
Assistant Attorney General

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