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WSDOT Sec. Peterson Talks Permit Reform, Culverts

Permitting reform is shaping up to be one of the more politically popular reforms impacting transportation construction. WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson told the audience at the AGC-WSDOT annual meeting that streamlined permitting is one of the department’s priorities. Last week Senate Majority Coalition leader Sen. Rodney Tom width=300told a Seattle Chamber of Commerce audience that permitting reform is one of his key “fix it before funding it” reform goals.

In the recent legislative session AGC supported a bill HB 1978 to streamline permits for WSDOT projects but the measure died (previous article here). The AGC-backed transportation funding package also failed to pass because in part many legislators held to a “fix it before funding it” philosophy. It has been unclear what exactly “fix it” means but it now appears that permitting reform is one proposal that many policymakers can rally behind.

Meanwhile the Legislature passed a measure to study the cost drivers of transportation projects. AGC is a member of the study advisory committee and has asked contractors for input on how WSDOT projects can be built more efficiently.

With regard to culverts Sec. Peterson explained to the AGC-WSDOT annual meeting audience that a recent court decision will require WSDOT per Native American treaties to repair or build 817 fish passages at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion over the next 17 years (see original article here). The culvert decision will create a boon in culvert construction while adding another drain on general transportation funding. The State Attorney General is appealing the decision but Sec. Peterson said the appeal would have only marginal affect – the number of culverts and the construction timeline might be affected by the appeal but the state will remain on the hook for fixing hundreds of them.

In addition to Sec. Peterson’s remarks and presentations on other WSDOT topics the AGC-WSDOT annual meeting also featured presentations on the Skagit River Bridge response by representatives from Guy F. Atkinson Construction (who built the new temporary bridge) and Max J. Kuney Company (who will build the permanent bridge). Plus the Excellence in Contract Administration and Environmental Excellence Awards were presented… click here for the list of winners.

Photo: Jeff Moore of PCL Civil Constructors Inc. visits with WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson at the AGC-WSDOT annual meeting July 19 in Fircrest.

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