Governor Hart signs a new state Administrative Code making significant but short-lived changes in Highway Department organization on February 9, 1921.

  • By Kit Oldham
  • Posted 1/28/2005
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7230
On February 9, 1921, Governor Louis F. Hart (1862-1929) signs a new state Administrative Code, which makes the Highway Department a division of the Department of Public Works and replaces the Highway Board with a Highway Committee. Highways remain under the Department of Public Works for only two years before another legislative realignment occurs in 1923.

The new Administrative Code changed the status of all state departments except those run by elected officials (the auditor, treasurer, and others), by organizing them into 10 departments. The legislation did away with the State Highway Board and office of the Highway Commissioner (which were created in 1905), replacing the Highway Department with a Division of Highways, one of three divisions within the new Department of Public Works. 

The powers and duties of the Highway Commissioner were given to the Director of Public Works, a position that went to E. V. Kuykendall. James Allen, who had been Highway Commissioner since 1916, was placed under Kuykendall as Supervisor of Highways, heading the Highway Division.

A smaller State Highway Committee, including only the governor, auditor, and treasurer, replaced the Highway Board, which by 1920 consisted of the governor, auditor, treasurer, highway commissioner, and a Public Service Commission member.

James Allen and his highway employees remained under the Department of Public Works for only two years. In its next session in 1923, the Legislature placed highway operations in charge of a state highway engineer and Allen was appointed to that post.


Sources: Ninth Biennial Report of the Supervisor of Highways for the Period Oct. 1, 1920, to Sept. 30, 1922 (Olympia: Frank M. Lamborn, Public Printer, 1922), 8-10; "Forty Years With the Washington Department of Highways," pp. 11, 13, Washington State Department of Transportation website accessed October 11, 2004 (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/History/40years.htm).

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