Bill on Highway 166 Passes House

A bill defining the extent of Highway 166 in Port Orchard passed the state House of Representatives Wednesday 93 to 5. SB 6510 now moves on to Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The measure if signed into law would settle a dispute between the state Department of Transportation and the City of Port Orchard over who should maintain a 610-foot section of road at the eastern end of Highway 166. The bill would require the state to maintain the section in question.
The highway now runs from Highway 160 near Gorst, along Sinclair Inlet, through downtown Port Orchard and partway up Mile Hill. A long-standing contract between the city and state says the state will maintain Highway 166 to the eastern city limits. But the city boundary moved farther up Mile Hill with annexation. The contract was not clear on whether responsibility to maintain the annexed section fell to the city or the state.
The roadway is showing signs of neglect, with potholes.
The original bill, sponsored by Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, called for extending the state highway 6 miles to include all of Mile Hill Drive and Southworth Drive. The bill was amended to address only the 610-foot section. The senate passed the amended version 48-0 on Feb. 16.
The city bases its position on RCW 4724, which says the state bears responsibility for roadway maintenance on state highways within a city whose population is fewer than 25,000. Port Orchard’s population is just more than 10,000. Another law, RCW 3513, could be interpreted to support the state’s position. The conflict created confusion about who should maintain the road, Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola said.
“The bill clarifies that the state has responsibility for that section of road,” said Coppola. “It’s been our position all along that Mile Hill is a state highway, and it’s the state’s responsibility to maintain it.”
Highway 166 has undergone a name change and has changed hands over the years.
Until 1992, the roadway through Port Orchard to the Southworth ferry was called Highway 160. But the state decided Sedgwick Road was a better route for getting to the ferry terminal and designated it Highway 160, turning the former Highway 160 over to Port Orchard and Kitsap County.
In 1993, the state took back the part of old Highway 160 from Highway 16 to Port Orchard’s eastern city limits because of mudslides near Ross Point. It named the 5-mile stretch Highway 166.

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