Joint Transportation Committee
Broadband Access to State Right-of-Way
The Washington State Legislature directed the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) to develop strategies for accessing state highway right of way to facilitate broadband access. This the latest in a series of State efforts to improve broad band infrastructure including targeted grant and loan programs and the creation of a Statewide Broadband Office, See RCW 43.330.530 - .538.
The 2021 Legislature passed ESHB 1457 to facilitate broadband access to state highway right of way. ESHB 1457 §7 requires the JTC study to include:
- Overlay mapping of current broadband infrastructure gaps/underserved areas with state highway map including currently planned projects affording potential for adding broadband infrastructure;
- Prioritizing broadband expansion opportunities in state highway right of way including finetuning a classification system for unserved and underserved areas;
- Analyzing costs and value of providing broadband access;
- Recommending role of WSDOT in a coordinated state agency approach to expanding broadband access;
- Analysis of relevant planning and financing tools;
- Potential for partnerships between WSDOT and broadband service providers that would also benefit the transportation system;
- Identification of potential safety, operations, and highway preservation impacts and strategies for mitigating those impacts;
- Approaches from other states and possible application in Washington;
- Identifying state and federal laws and regulations relevant to broadband expansion via transportation infrastructure that might be a barrier to the above recommendations and suggested legislative modifications to any barriers.
The JTC hired consulting firm KPMG to provide the required analysis. KPMG has previously provided similar reports to other states. The final report of the study is due January 1, 2022.