A bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Moeller that has passed both the state House and Senate seeks to ensure that all new or newly repaired state highways within cities eventually make room for pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transit.
House Bill 1071, Moeller’s “Complete Streets” legislation, directs state transportation officials to work with local jurisdictions on the design of street construction and repair projects to make sure they accommodate a variety of transportation modes.
At this point the measure is “an empty bucket,” Moeller said, because the state has no ability to fund it. But the state envisions eventually providing grants to local governments to pay for such amenities as sidewalks and bike lanes along some sections of state highways and major arterial streets.
“It really does set the stage for future federal funding and state funding, hopefully,” the Vancouver Democrat said. “In addition to state highways, it applies to arterial streets.”
The measure aims at “keeping everyone in the loop when it comes to our transportation infrastructure,” Moeller said in a statement. “You’re talking about designing and operating streets in a way that guarantees safe and reliable access for everyone.”
Many cities favor the legislation, which drew no organized opposition, said Mark Brown, a lobbyist for the cities of Vancouver, Battle Ground and Ridgefield.
“It provides a good framework,” he said. “It’s not an unfunded mandate. It’s the opposite, a promise of funding but not immediate funding. It sets the stage for when we do have a new revenue package to help pay for the work.”
The legislation would apply to several sections of state highways in Clark County, Brown said, including stretches of Highway 503 within Vancouver, Battle Ground and Yacolt; a section of Highway 502 that runs through Battle Ground; and a section of Highway 501 that connects Interstate 5 with Ridgefield.
The bill is on its way to the governor’s desk for final approval.