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AGO 1956 No. 324 - October 04, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

HIGHWAYS AND BRIDGES ‑- AVAILABILITY OF FEDERAL FUNDS TO CONSTRUCT TOLL FREE PARALLEL BRIDGE ON LAKE WASHINGTON ‑- STEPS NECESSARY TO BUILD TACOMA-SEATTLE‑EVERETT TOLL ROAD AS A FREEWAY

1. Federal funds may be available, depending upon congressional approval of the needs study submitted by the secretary of commerce on January 2, 1958, and upon concurrence by the secretary of commerce in the project, its location and plans.

2. Primary state highway No. 1 (U.S. 99) must be abandoned and deeded to the county, together with other procedural steps.

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                                                                 October 4, 1956

Honorable Richard Ruoff
State Representative, 32nd District
511 East 47th
Seattle, Washington                                                                                    Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 324

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion upon the following questions:

            (1) Would it be possible under the new Federal highway law to obtain Federal funds to construct a toll-free parallel bridge on Lake Washington as suggested by the King County Municipal League?

            (2) What legal action would be necessary to build the Tacoma-Seattle‑Everett toll road as a freeway?

            The first question in qualifiedly answered in the affirmative.  The second question will be answered in our analysis below.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            (1) As you know, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 has for its primary purpose the establishment of a modern interstate highway system.  The  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] additional moneys to be made available pursuant to the act are primarily to be spent on the interstate system.  The interstate system within the State of Washington includes Primary State Highway No. 1 (U.S. 99) and Nos. 2 and 18 (U.S. 10), and a portion of Secondary State Highway No. 2-A.  However, pursuant to the 1956 act, the availability of funds for expenditure by each state for specific highway improvement is contingent upon the secretary of commerce entering into a formal agreement for the construction, reconstruction or improvement of the specific project, compliance with § 1 of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1950, and the approval by the secretary of commerce of geometric and construction standards to be used in the given project.  See § 102 (b) and § 108 (i) of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.  The schedule for the availability of Federal funds for the years 1957, 1958 and 1959 has been established by the 1956 act.  However, § 108 (d) requires that the secretary of commerce shall transmit a needs study in January, 1958, and each succeeding year for approval by Congress.  It is, therefore, apparent that if the Washington State Highway Commission proposes the construction of another Lake Washington bridge as part of Primary State Highway No. 2, Federal funds may be available, depending upon Congressional approval of the needs study submitted by the secretary of commerce on January 2, 1958, and upon concurrence by the secretary of commerce in such project and the specific location and plans therefor.

            (2) In answer to your second question, we believe that the following legal procedure is necessary to build the Tacoma-Seattle‑Everett toll road as a freeway:

            (a) If it were decided that a freeway should be built in the general location of the proposed toll road, the following steps could be taken: The director of highways could, pursuant to RCW 36.75.090, and after construction of the new freeway, abandon the existing Primary State Highway No. 1 (U.S. 99) upon certification to the county within which the highway is located.  The governor could then convey by deed the abandoned highway to the county.  It is our opinion that it would not be necessary that the legislature establish the route of the new freeway pursuant to chapter 47.16 RCW, because the general route has already been designated in RCW 47.16.010, and RCW 47.28.010 gives the director the latitude of selecting the most feasible route whenever a general route of the state highway has been designated.

            (b) The same procedure in regard to obtaining Federal funds under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, as outlined in this opinion under (1), would be necessary in regard to the relocation of Primary State Highway No. 1 and its construction as a freeway.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            (c) The legislature should repeal RCW 47.59.500 and RCW 47.59.510, which authorizes the construction of the Tacoma-Seattle‑Everett toll road project over a certain designated route.

            It is submitted that the best administrative procedure would be as follows:  The Washington Toll Bridge Authority should revoke all prior resolutions concerned with the toll road and having decided that the toll road would not be feasible in view of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, would then recommend the same to the highway commission, and the highway commission would take under consideration the construction of the toll road as a freeway with Federal funds available, depending upon concurrence of the secretary of commerce in such project and the specific plans and location therefor, and consistent with the availability of Federal funds as may be determined by Congress.

            We hope that the foregoing analysis will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,


DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


NEWELL SMITH
Assistant Attorney General

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