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Pedestrian Bridge Banner Policy Changes

Enterprise Services considering changes to current pedestrian bridge banner policy

The Department of Enterprise Services is responsible for issuing permits for displays on the state Capitol Campus in Olympia, including banners hung from the pedestrian bridge over Capitol Way South, located just south of 14th Ave. S.E. The department is considering updates to its current display policy that might include potential restrictions on content for banners hung from the walking bridge, a familiar Olympia landmark.

Recent safety review changed who can hang banners

Enterprise Services periodically reviews its policies as a best practice. In an average year, the agency issues about 120 permits to individuals and organizations to hang banners from the bridge. Earlier this year, the department reviewed its bridge banner program – first put in place in the 1990s – due to concerns regarding the safety and management of the banners.

As a result, the department changed its policy in October so that only the department can hang bridge banners. This change ensures all banners are properly installed and don't cause a safety hazard to passing motorists and pedestrians. The review also prompted other concerns related to banner content and questions about clear and consistent evaluation criteria. Read the Frequently Asked Questions.

Safety analysis prompts Enterprise Services to issue moratorium on bridge banner permits

As a result of the review, Enterprise Services put a 180-day moratorium in place on Oct. 21, 2016, on considering new bridge banner permit applications. The agency put the moratorium in place to:

  • Reassess current campus use policies related to bridge banners, including content.
  • Ensure clarity so everyone understands the potential evaluation criteria for banners.
  • Improve safety on the campus by reducing driving distractions as well as potential confrontations, vandalism, or falling objects from the bridge associated with banners with controversial content or topics.

Clear banner definitions and content criteria needed

During the moratorium, DES will be evaluating several different banner policy options including:

  • Prohibiting all banners to be placed on the bridge.
  • Implementing some restrictions on banner content and/or allowing only public service and governmental announcements.
  • Placing no restrictions on bridge banner messaging.

Enterprise Services seeking public feedback on banner content options through March 1, 2017

During the moratorium, Enterprise Services is seeking to make an informed solution that balances public safety and appropriate community use of the Capitol Campus, and we want to hear from the community.

Public open house set for January 5

To share information and hear public feedback on potential banner content options, Enterprise Services is conducting an evening open public house on Thursday, January 5.

Bridge Banner Policy Open House
Public Open House – Thursday, January 5, 2017
When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: 1500 Jefferson Building, first floor presentation room, 1500 Jefferson St. S.E., Olympia

Computer stations, index cards and flip charts will be set up at the open house for people who want to submit feedback that evening.

Submit electronic feedback

Enterprise Services is seeking feedback through March 1, 2017 via this electronic feedback form.

Submit written feedback

The department will also accept written feedback through March 1, 2017, which will be posted on the department's website. Please send your written feedback to:

Tony Aitken
Visitor Services Manager
Washington Department of Enterprise Services
PO Box 41034
Olympia, WA 98504-1034