On Friday, March 25, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed our bridge access bill into law. The
bill (SSB 6363) requires that the Department of Transportation assess the feasibility of
providing public river access when a bridge is built or re-constructed. The bill had bi-partisan
support, and many of you reached out to your state representatives to help make this happen.
Thanks to everyone who participated!
Take Action and thank supporters of public access to rivers!
Please take a moment to thank the
public officials who supported improving public river access in Washington!
thank your state representatives and Governor Inslee here
. We've set up a
customized message to thank all who voted in support of river access. If you've already
reached out, it's helpful to do so again...everyone likes to be thanked!
As part of our work to protect and promote access to public waterways, American Whitewater
pursued Substitute Senate Bill
in the Washington State legislature to require an evaluation of providing public access
for state highway projects that include construction of a bridge across a navigable waterway.
You can read the complete bill
. The initial paragraph reads as follows:
(1) During the design process for state highway projects that include the construction of a
new bridge or reconstruction of an existing bridge across a navigable river or waterway,
excluding limited access highways and ferry terminals, the department must consider and report on
the feasibility of providing a means of public access to the navigable river or waterway for
public recreational purposes. The report must document whether the proposed project is in an area
identified by state or local plans to be a priority for recreational access to waterways. If the
proposed project is in an area identified by state or local plans to be a priority for
recreational access to waterways, the department must coordinate with other relevant state
agencies or local agencies to ensure consistency with the identified recreational plan.
The original sponsors of this bipartisan bill included prime sponsor Senator Takko
(D, 19th LD) who represents a
district that includes Aberdeen and Willapa Bay, and sponsors Senator Ericksen
(R, 42nd LD) who represents a
district that includes Bellingham and Ferndale and Senator Hobbs
(D, 44th LD) whose district
includes Mill Creek, Lake Stevens, and Snohomish. In the House, original sponsors for a companion
bill included Representative
(D, 11th LD) whose district includes Tukwila and portions of the Duwamish River and
lower Cedar River; Representative Hayes
(R, 10th LD) whose district includes Whidbey Island and Camano Island; Representative Tarleton
(D, 36th LD) whose
district includes the Seattle neighborhoods of Greenwood, Ballard, Magnolia, and Queene Anne; and
(R, 25th LD)
whose district includes Puyallup.
Our original bill was adopted from the California State Highway Code but was modified in response
to issues Washington DOT raised. Maryland also has a law requiring an evaluation of access at
bridge projects, and Virginia has an MOU in place. In Washington, we worked in partnership with
Northwest Marine Trade Association
, an organization
devoted to growing boating and the sponsor of the Northwest Paddling Festival at Lake Sammamish
Need for Legislation:
In recent years we have witnessed several bridge projects at sites that are important for public
access. In some cases the State Department of Transportation has done a great job of thinking
about public access. It's often a simple matter of designing the landscaping to accommodate a
foot trail to the water and making accommodations for parking outside the travel way. In other
cases however the state has invested millions of dollars in a bridge project with no
consideration for existing use of the right-of-way for public access to the water. A recent
example was the replacement of the Highway 2 bridge across the
, an $8 million project where existing river access could have been easily
improved. Other recent bridge projects at river access points include the Highway 9 bridge across
Pilchuck Creek and Highway 162 bridge across the Puyallup River.
The outcome of these projects is largely dependent on our ability to establish relationships with
individual project managers and we pursued this legislation to bring more consistency to how the
Department of Transportation approaches the multiple public benefits that can be achieved with
proper planning on the front end.
SB6363 was heard before the Senate Transportation Committee on 1/26/2016.
15:04 staff report on SB6363 delivered
18:10 Senator Takko (prime sponsor) testimony on bill
19:50 Supporting Public Testimony (Peter Schrappen, Northwest Marine Trade Association; Thomas
O'Keefe, American Whitewater [video cut out testimony]; Brittany Jarnot, Recreational Boating
Association of Washington)
22:15 Jeff Carpenter, Washington Department of Transportation
24:26 hearing on SB6044 testimony concludes with note that Associated General Contractors of
Washington and Washington Environmental Council signed in support of the bill but chose not to
On 2/17/2016, SSB 6363 passed the Senate on a 49-0 vote.
A public hearing for SSB 6363 was held before the House Committee on Transportation on 2/22/2016.
10:45 staff report on SSB6363 delivered
14:05 Senator Takko (prime sponsor) testimony on bill
20:00 Opposition Testimony (M.M. Halvorsen, Blair Towing)
25:00 Supporting Public Testimony (Nathan Fitzgerald, Northwest Marine Trade Association; Patrick Steehler,
American Canoe Association; Brittany
Jarnot, Recreational Boating Association of Washington)
29:25 public hearing on SSB6044 testimony
concludes with note of those signed in supporting the bill.
SSB6363 passed out of the House Transportation Commitee on Transportation on 2/29/2016.
1:35:15 Discussion and vote on SSB6363
1:39:10 Executive Session on SSB6363 concludes with a 23-2 do pass recommendation (Rep. Orcutt
and Rep. Kochmar voted no).
On 3/3/2016, SSB 6363 passed the House on a
On 3/25/2016, Governor Inslee signed
the bill into law.