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                         SENATE BILL 5765



State of Washington      57th Legislature     2001 Regular Session


By Senators Prentice, Swecker, Shin, Oke, Parlette, Horn, Haugen and McDonald; by request of The Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation


Read first time 02/01/2001.  Referred to Committee on Transportation.

Streamlining the environmental permit process for transportation projects.

    AN ACT Relating to environmental permit streamlining for transportation projects; and amending RCW 47.01.021, 47.01.290, and 47.01.300.




    Sec. 1.  RCW 47.01.021 and 1977 ex.s. c 151 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:

    As used in this title unless the context indicates otherwise:

    (1) "Department" means the department of transportation created in RCW 47.01.031;

    (2) "Commission" means the transportation commission created in RCW 47.01.051;

    (3) "Secretary" means the secretary of transportation as provided for in RCW 47.01.041;

    (4) "One-stop permitting" means a consolidated permitting process for all environmental reviews and permitting of transportation projects;

    (5) "Low-impact development standards" means techniques, technologies, or strategies that seek to reduce the negative impact of transportation facilities, projects, and services on communities and the environment, and promote more efficient and effective use of transportation facilities.  Examples include transportation demand management, transportation system management, and smart growth.


    Sec. 2.  RCW 47.01.290 and 1994 c 258 s 3 are each amended to read as follows:

    The legislature recognizes that environmental review of transportation projects is a continuous process that should begin at the earliest stages of planning and continue through final project construction.  Early and extensive involvement of the relevant environmental regulatory authorities is critical in order to avoid significant changes in substantially completed project design and engineering.  Additionally, streamlining the permit approval process is essential for reducing project delays.  It is the expectation of the legislature that if a comprehensive environmental approach is integrated throughout various transportation processes, onerous, duplicative, and time-consuming permit processes will be minimized.


    Sec. 3.  RCW 47.01.300 and 1994 c 258 s 4 are each amended to read as follows:

    The department shall, in cooperation with environmental regulatory authorities:

    (1) Identify and document environmental resources in the development of the statewide multimodal plan under RCW 47.06.040;

    (2) Allow for public comment regarding changes to the criteria used for prioritizing projects under chapter 47.05 RCW before final adoption of the changes by the commission;

    (3) Use an environmental review as part of the project prospectus identifying potential environmental impacts, mitigation, and costs during the early project identification and selection phase, submit the prospectus to the relevant environmental regulatory authorities, and maintain a record of comments and proposed revisions received from the authorities;

    (4) Actively work with the relevant environmental regulatory authorities during the design alternative analysis process and seek written concurrence from the authorities that they agree with the preferred design alternative selected;

    (5) Develop a uniform methodology, in consultation with relevant environmental regulatory authorities, for submitting plans and specifications detailing project elements that impact environmental resources, and proposed mitigation measures, to the relevant environmental regulatory authorities during the preliminary specifications and engineering phase of project development;

    (6) Screen construction projects to determine which projects will require complex or multiple permits.  The permitting authorities shall develop methods for initiating review of the permit applications for the projects before the final design of the projects;

    (7) Conduct special prebid meetings for those projects that are environmentally complex; ((and))

    (8) Review environmental considerations related to particular projects during the preconstruction meeting held with the contractor who is awarded the bid;

    (9) Actively seek delegation of permit authority from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act.  This delegation of permit authority should be sought only for transportation projects under the direction of the department;

    (10) Actively work with environmental regulatory authorities to establish standards for environmental reviews that are consistent among local, county, state, and federal governmental jurisdictions; and

    (11) Actively work with environmental regulatory authorities to determine and document the issues, procedures, and factors central to establishing one-stop permitting for major transportation capital projects.  This effort should:

    (a) Identify highway projects of statewide significance to be eligible for one-stop permitting;

    (b) Select a significant highway construction project as a pilot project to be completed in two years;

    (c) Evaluate the use of planning and permitting standards that encourage low-impact alternatives; and

    (d) Seek to accelerate the permit process for projects that use low-impact development standards.


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