Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1952 No. 409 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


Consent of the county is not a prerequisite to the closing off of a county road where the same intersects and crosses a state highway limited access facility at grade, where said county road is not a part of the limited access facility.

                                                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                              September 30, 1952

Honorable Phillip Sheridan
Prosecuting Attorney
Snohomish County
Central Building
Everett, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 409

 Dear Sir:

            By your letter of August 26, 1952, you have requested our opinion as to whether the county commissioners of your county have the authority to deny the state highway authorities consent to close off the county road known as Tulalip Road where said road crosses at grade the new state limited access highway being constructed between Everett and Marysville.

             Precisely, the question presented is whether the language of RCW 47.52.020 requires the state to request and obtain the consent of the county in such a case.

             It is our conclusion that:

             Consent of the county is not a prerequisite to the closing off of a county road where the same intersects and crosses a state highway limited access facility at grade, where said county road is not a part of the limited access facility.


             The establishment of limited access facilities was authorized by the legislature by chapter 202, Laws of 1947, as added to and amended by chapter 167, Laws of 1951 (RCW 47.52.001, et seq.).

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Because the concept of limited access is of recent origin in the United States and particularly in this state, there are no pertinent judicial decisions or prior opinions of this office which control the construction of our limited access statutes under the factual situation which you have presented.  We must, therefore, attempt to determine the intent of the legislature with reference to established rules of statutory construction.

             RCW 47.52.020 reads as follows:

             "The highway authorities of the state, counties, and incorporated cities and towns, acting alone or in cooperation with each other, or with any federal, state, or local agency, or any other state having authority to participate in the construction and maintenance of highways, may plan, designate, establish, regulate, vacate, alter, improve, construct, maintain, and provide limited access facilities for public use wherever such authority or authorities are of the opinion that traffic conditions, present or future, will justify such special facilities:  Provided, that within incorporated cities and towns, andupon county roads within counties, such authority or authorities shall be subject to the consent of the governing body."  (1951 L., ch. 167, § 4; 1947 L., ch. 202, § 2, part; formerly Rem. Supp. 1947, § 6402-61, part.)  (Emphasis supplied to "upon.")

             It is the proviso of the above section with which we are now directly concerned.

             Does "upon county roads" mean wherever a county road intersects or crosses a limited access facility at grade or does it mean "upon" in the sense of "along" a county road which has been selected for inclusion as an integral part of a limited access facility?  We believe the latter construction to be the more reasonable, as a consideration of a subsequent section of the limited access law will reveal, bearing in mind that the legislative intent is to be determined from a consideration of the entire act involved.

             RCW 47.52.070 provides in part as follows:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "* * * The state, counties and incorporated cities and towns may provide for the elimination of sections at grade of limited access facilities with existing state or county roads, * * *by closing off such roads and streets at the right-of-way boundary line of such limited access facility; and after the establishment of any such facility,no highway or street which is not part of said facility, shall intersect the same at grade.  No city or town street, county road, or state highway, or any other public or private way, shall be opened into or connect with any such limited access facility without the consent and previous approval of the highway authority of the state, county, incorporated city or town having jurisdiction over such limited access facility.  Such consent and approval shall be given only if the public interest shall be served thereby."  (1951 L., ch. 167, § 10; 1947 L., ch 202, § 6; formerly Rem. Supp. 1947, § 6402-65.)  (Emphasis supplied.)

             The latter section appears to be directly in point with the facts of the instant case.  It is to be noted that said section requires no consent from the highway or street authority whose road is so closed off.  Further, said section expressly states that no highway or street which is not a part of the limited access facility shall intersect the same at grade.  It follows that the consent contemplated by RCW 47.52.020,supra, must have reference to county roads whichare a part of the limited access facility.  To hold otherwise would be to read into the statutes a flagrant inconsistency contrary to the general rule of construction requiring an interpretation which will make the provisions of the statutes consistent.  State ex rel. Sater v. State Board of Pilotage Commissioners, 198 Wash. 695, 90 P. (2d) 238.

             RCW 47.52.001 provides as follows:

             "Unrestricted access to and from public highways has resulted in congestion and peril for the traveler.  It has caused undue slowing of all traffic in many areas.  The investment of the public in highway  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] facilities has been impaired and highway facilities costing vast sums of money will have to be relocated and reconstructed.  It is the declared policy of this state to limit access to the highway facilities of this state in the interest of highway safety and for the preservation of the investment of the public in such facilities."  (1951 L., ch. 167, § 1.)

            Thus, the legislature has recognized the evils sought to be corrected by limited access facilities and has declared its policy with respect thereto.  The intent to make the highways safer for travel is expressly set forth.  To allow any intersecting or crossing of a limited access facility at grade by any road or street not a part of such facility would divest the statutes of their efficacy and defeat the express intent of the legislature.  Statutes should receive a sensible construction, such as will effect the legislative intention, avoiding absurd results and conclusions in so far as possible.  State v. Asotin County, 79 Wash. 634 (p. 639), 140 Pac. 914; State v. Lake City Bowlers' Club Inc., 26 Wn. (2d) 292, 173 P. (2d) 783; State ex rel.Thorp v. Devin, 26 Wn. (2d) 333, 173 P. (2d) 994.

             We therefore advise you that in our opinion the consent of the county is not a prerequisite to the closing off of a county road where the same intersects and crosses a state highway limited access facility at grade, where said county road is not a part of the limited access facility.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General