William R. Roy becomes State Highway Commissioner in December 1913.

  • By Kit Oldham
  • Posted 2/01/2005
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7242

In December 1913 William R. Roy becomes Washington's fifth Highway Commissioner. He will preside over the Highway Department until March 1916.

Governor Ernest Lister appointed Roy to replace William Roberts. During Roy's tenure, the Highway Department worked on constructing portions of the seven primary state roads -- Central Washington Highway, Inland Empire Highway, McClellan Pass Highway, National Park Highway, Olympic Highway, Pacific Highway, and Sunset Highway -- and 14 secondary state roads designated by the 1913 Legislature. Construction work also proceeded on a number of bridges, including those spanning the Lewis and Skagit rivers.

One of the primary achievements under Roy was completion of the section of Sunset Highway (the primary east-west trunk highway, much of it more or less along the route now followed by Interstate 90) over Snoqualmie Pass. Governor Lister presided at a July 1, 1915, dedication at the pass to celebrate the state's first passable road across the Cascade Mountains. 

Roy served until March 1916, when he was replaced by James Allen.


Paul Dorpat and Genevieve McCoy, Building Washington (Seattle: Tartu Publications, 1998), 82-83; Report of the State Highway Department for the Period October 1, 1912, to October 1, 1914 (Olympia, 1914), 26-78; "Forty Years With the Washington Department of Highways," p. 7. Washington State Department of Transportation website accessed October 11, 2004 (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/History/40years.htm).

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