In a release from the Washington State Department of Transportation on Tuesday, the agency says that with the arrival of summer and more counties relaxing restrictions under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan, the Washington state departments of Health, Commerce and Transportation are working together to provide more access to public roadways as a way to support active, healthy communities and business recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Safe, Healthy and Active Streets Program (pdf 88 kb) allows temporary lane reallocations on some state roadways to allow walkers and cyclists more space to maintain physical distance, and to provide greater access to businesses along “main street” highways.
This temporary change to some traffic lanes could let towns increase space for people walking or biking, or create outdoor seating for restaurants and sales areas for retailers, while maintaining physical distance to help reduce exposure to the virus.
The Washington State Department of Transportation will work with requesting cities and counties to evaluate roadway segments that meet criteria for lane reallocation that is safe for all users.
Eligible state highway locations will be on roadways with 35 mph speed limits or lower and within population centers with demonstrated lack of space for physical distancing for walking, bicycling or other forms of active transportation.
The duration of temporary lane reallocations will be for up to 90 days, but could vary depending on the agreement with each city.
WSDOT asks interested local jurisdictions to ensure that they’ve communicated with the people and businesses affected by the changes and that they report on how the roadway changes work.
Towns could use this reallocation to test and learn from changes they might want to consider implementing in the future.