State highways in Washington: Wikis


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State highways in Washington
State highways in Washington
Lists: current - Interstates - U.S. Routes - 1937-70 - 1964 renumbering

In the U.S. state of Washington, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) maintains a network of over 7000 miles (11000 km) of state highways, including all Interstate and U.S. Highways that pass through the state. The system comprises 8.5% of the state's public road mileage, but carries over half of the traffic.[1][2] All other public roads in the state are either inside incorporated places (cities or towns) or are maintained by the county.[3]


System description

All state highways are designated by the Washington State Legislature and codified in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). These routes are defined generally by termini and points along the route; WSDOT may otherwise choose the details, and may bypass the designated points as long as the road serves the general vicinity.[4][3][5] WSDOT's duties include "locating, designing, constructing, improving, repairing, operating, and maintaining" these state highways, including bridges and other related structures.[6] Within cities and towns, the local governments are responsible certain aspects of the streets maintained as parts of a state highway, including their grade and the portion not used for highway purposes.[7] All routes, even Interstate and U.S. Highways, are defined as "state route number" plus the number; for instance, Interstate 5 is "state route number 5" and U.S. Route 395 is "state route number 395". Also included in the RCW are "state route number 20 north" (signed as State Route 20 Spur) and "state route number 97-alternate" (signed as U.S. Route 97 Alternate). Some other spurs, such as State Route 503 Spur, are defined as part of the main routes, as is U.S. Route 101 Alternate.[8][1] WSDOT has also defined some spurs that mainly serve to provide full access between intersecting routes.[9]

Although most state highways as defined by law are open to traffic, State Route 109 dead-ends at Taholah, State Route 501 has a gap in the middle, and State Routes 35, 168, 213, 230, 276, and 704, and most of SR 171, have not been constructed.[8][1] Notable sections of state highways include the six crossings of the Cascade Range - the Columbia River Gorge (SR 14), White Pass (US 12), Chinook Pass (SR 410), Snoqualmie Pass (I-90), Stevens Pass (US 2), and the North Cascades Highway (SR 20).[10] Of the 13 public road crossings of the Canadian border in Washington, nine are on state highways.[11] Major bridges include the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and three floating bridges: the Evergreen Point Bridge, Hood Canal Bridge, and Lake Washington Bridge. The Washington State Ferries, except the route to Sidney, British Columbia, were legally included in the state highway system in 1994; a new State Route 339 was created at that time for the passenger-only Seattle-Vashon Ferry.[12] According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, ocean beaches are legally state highways with a general speed limit of 25 mph (40 km/h), many only open to vehicles between the day after Labor Day and April 14,[13] but state law places the beaches under the control of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and only designates them as "public highways".[14][15][16]

Most state routes are numbered in a grid, with even-numbered routes running east–west and odd-numbered routes running north–south.[17] Even two-digit routes increase from south to north in three "strips", with SR 4, SR 6, and SR 8 in the western part of the state, SR 14, SR 16, SR 18, and SR 20 in central Washington, and SR 22, SR 24, SR 26, SR 28, and former SR 30 in the east. Odd numbers similarly increase from west to east, with SR 3, SR 7, SR 9, SR 11, SR 17, SR 21, SR 23, SR 25, SR 27, and SR 31 following this general progression. (SR 19 was added in 1991, and lies west of SR 3; SR 41 is an extension of Idaho State Highway 41.) Three-digit routes (and SR 92 and SR 96) are usually numbered by taking the first one or two digits of a route it connects to and adding another digit or two. In some cases, instead of using the two-digit route's actual number, a number that would fit the grid is used instead. Three-digit routes have been numbered as follows:

Main Branches Notes
SR 9 92, 96
US 101 100-119
SR 11 110 Only existed from 1967 to 1975; SR 110 has since been re-applied to a spur of US 101
US 12 121-131
US 830, SR 12, US 410 120-129 Only existed from 1964 to 1967, when US 830 and SR 12 became SR 14 and US 410 became US 12
US 97 131 Fits in the grid as SR 13; only existed from 1964 to 1975, when US 97 replaced SR 131; SR 131 has since been re-applied to a spur of US 12
SR 14 140-143
SR 14 141-143 Only existed from 1964 to 1967, when SR 14 became US 12
US 97 150-155 Fits in the grid as SR 15
SR 16, SR 410 160-169
SR 17 170-174
SR 18 181
US 195 193-194
US 2 202-209
SR 20 211-215, 237 SR 237 replaced SR 537 in 1975 after SR 20 replaced part of SR 536
SR 22 220-225
SR 23 230-232
SR 24 240-243
SR 25 251
SR 26 260-263
SR 27 270-278
SR 28 281-285
US 395 290-294 Fits in the grid as SR 29
SR 3 300-310, 339
SR 31 311 SR 311 became SR 211 in 1975 after SR 20 replaced part of SR 31
US 395 397
SR 4 401-409, 411, 431-433 431-433 replaced 831-833 in 1967 when SR 4 replaced US 830
I-5 500-548, 599
SR 6 603
SR 7 702-706
SR 8 801 Only existed from 1964 to 1967, when SR 8 became part of US 12 and SR 801 became SR 121
I-82 821-823
US 830 831-833 Only existed from 1964 to 1967, when US 830 became SR 4 and 831-833 became 431-433
I-90 900-908, 920
US 97 970-971


Washington's first connected state highway system, 1913

After passing several early laws designating state roads starting in 1893, the Washington State Legislature created the State Highway Board in 1905 and appropriated funds to construct - but not maintain - twelve numbered "state roads" in sparsely settled areas of the state. (Main highways in more populated areas would continue to be entirely under county control, though sometimes built with 50% state aid.) Six of these highways were east–west crossings of the Cascades; others included a portion of Chuckanut Drive and a road around the west side of the Olympic Peninsula.[18] Under a 1909 law, the State Highway Board surveyed a connected network of proposed state roads,[19] The legislature added most of these routes to the state highway system in 1913, when they formed a two-tiered system of primary and secondary roads. Primary roads were completely controlled by the state, including maintenance, and received only names, while secondary roads kept their numbers and county maintenance. Unlike the earlier state roads, these primary roads mostly followed existing passable county roads.[20][21][22]

A 1923 restructuring of the system re-assigned numbers to almost all the primary state highways,[23] which were soon marked on signs. In 1937, the old primary/secondary split was abolished, and a new system of primary and secondary state highways was created, all to be maintained by the state in the same manner. The old state roads all kept their numbers as new primary state highways, and secondary state highways were created as alphanumeric branches of those primary highways (for instance SSH 8D was a branch of PSH 8).[24][25] The final renumbering[26] was authorized by law in 1963 and posted in January 1964, when new "sign route" numbers were assigned that matched the inter-state systems and otherwise formed the present grid. Until 1970, these numbers coexisted with the older primary and secondary state highways, when the legislature adopted the sign route numbers as "state routes", finally eliminating all vestiges of the 1905 numbering.[27]


Part of the series on
Highways in Washington
I-blank.svg Interstates
US blank.svg U.S. routes
WA Blank.svg State highways
WA-PSH blank.png Former Primary State Highways
  1. ^ a b c Washington State Department of Transportation, State Highway Log, 2006
  2. ^ Washington State Department of Transportation, Annual Mileage and Travel Information, 2006
  3. ^ a b RCW 47.04.020 (classification of highways), accessed March 2008
  4. ^ RCW 41.04.010 (definitions), accessed March 2008
  5. ^ RCW 47.28.010 (latitude in selecting route), accessed March 2008
  6. ^ RCW 47.01.260 (authority of department), accessed March 2008
  7. ^ RCW 47.24.020 (jurisdiction, control)
  8. ^ a b RCW 47.17 (state highway routes), accessed March 2008
  9. ^ The only ones listed in the 2006 log that do not provide such "missing movements" are SR 9 Spur to the truck customs in Sumas and SR 504 Spur and SR 906 Spur to WSDOT maintenance areas.
  10. ^ Washington State Department of Transportation, Mountain Passes, accessed March 2008
  11. ^ U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Incoming Personal Vehicle Crossings, U.S.-Canadian Border, 1994-2003: there are two state highway crossings at Blaine, and the four non-state highway crossings are at Boundary (former State Route 251), Ferry, Nighthawk, and Point Roberts.
  12. ^ Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1994 chapter 209. "An act relating to state highway routes; amending RCW 47.17.080, 47.17.081, 47.17.175, 47.17.305, 47.17.317, 47.17.556, 47.17.560, and 47.17.735; and adding new sections to chapter 47.17 RCW."
  13. ^ Washington State Department of Licensing (2006). "Washington Driver Guide". pp. 36. "Driving on ocean beaches - Driving is allowed on ocean beaches in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. The beach is considered a state highway so all road, vehicle registration, and driver licensing regulations apply. The speed limit is 25 mph (40 km/h) and pedestrians have the right-of-way at all times. You may only enter the beach with your vehicle through marked beach approaches and you may only drive on hard-packed sand. Watch for beach closure signs and signs that occasionally prohibit beach driving."  
  14. ^ RCW 79A.05.010 (definitions), accessed March 2008
  15. ^ RCW 79A.05.693 (ocean beaches in Seashore Conservation Area declared public highways), accessed March 2008
  16. ^ RCW 79A.05.610 (jurisdiction over and administration of area), accessed March 2008
  17. ^ Only SR 501, SR 523, SR 531, and SR 548 run in a perpendicular direction.
  18. ^ Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1905 chapter 7, p. 18. "An act providing for the survey establishment and repair of certain State highways, and making an appropriation therefor."
  19. ^ Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1909 chapter 51, p. 94. "An act providing for the survey of certain proposed state roads, and state road extensions, by the State Highway Commissioner, and a report on the feasibility of the same."
  20. ^ State Highway Board, Road Map of Washington Showing Main Traveled Roads, 1912
  21. ^ Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1913 chapter 65, p. 221. "An act relating to public highways, classifying the same and naming and fixing the routes of certain state roads."
  22. ^ Washington Department of Transportation, Forty Years with the Washington Department of Highways, pp. 1-2, 6, accessed March 2008
  23. ^ Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1923 chapter 185, p. 627. "An act relating to, classifying, naming and fixing the routes of certain state highways, amending Section 6796, and repealing Sections 6791, 6792, 6793, 6794, 6795, 6797, 6798, 6799, 6800, 6801, 6802, 6803, 6804, 6805, 6806, 6808, 6809, 6811, 6812, 6813 and 6816 of Remington's Compiled Statutes."
  24. ^ Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1937 chapter 190, p. 933. "An act relating to public highways, creating and establishing, describing and designating the primary state highways of the State of Washington and declaring an emergency."
  25. ^ Session Laws of the State of Washington. 1937 chapter 207, p. 993. "An act relating to public highways; classifying public highways outside incorporated cities and towns; establishing, designating and describing secondary state highways as branches of primary state highways of this state; defining the powers and duties of certain public officers with respect thereto; providing for application of laws, rules and regulation of vehicles thereon; repealing acts and parts of acts in conflict; providing for constitutionality; and declaring an emergency."
  26. ^ Washington State Highway Commission, December 1, 1965, Identification of State Highways, part 1 and part 2 (PDF)
  27. ^ For example, SR 4 from 1905 kept its number as PSH 4 until 1970.

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