Streamlined Permitting for Transportation Projects

The transportation package before the state Senate includes several elements designed to speed the completion of new construction and maintenance projects, including adding a 90 day processing requirement for new construction permits, limiting permit appeals to Superior Court, and exempting maintenance from state and local permits.

This initiative to increase efficiency and reduce costs is mirrored by legislation moving forward out of the transportation committee on the house side. A bipartisan effort spearheaded by Reps. Dave Hayes and Hans Zeiger, working with committee chair Judy Clibborn, has yielded three bills. HB 1219, sponsored by Zeiger and Clibborn, would expedite permitting by exempting the repair or replacement of structurally deficient state bridges from SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act), as well as expediting the bidding process to implement the work. Hayes and Rep. Steve Bergquist have brought forth a related bill, HB 1851, which applies to bridges owned by local governments.  HB 1850,  from Hayes and Clibborn, would exempt certain WSDOT maintenance activities, as well as construction actions undertaken for safety, from local review or permit processes under the Shoreline Management Act.

These efforts to reduce process friction and costs associated with transportation projects are encouraging, as legislators contemplate asking the voters for new tax funds.

The Senate legislation:

The House bills: