Washington State Route 261

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State Route 261 marker

State Route 261
SR 261 is highlighted in red.
Route information
Auxiliary route of SR 26
Defined by RCW 47.17.480
Maintained by WSDOT
Length: 62.71 mi[2] (100.92 km)
Existed: 1964[1] – present
Major junctions
South end: US 12 near Starbuck
  SR 260 near Kahlotus
SR 26 / SR 260 in Washtucna
North end: I‑90 / US 395 in Ritzville
Counties: Columbia, Franklin, Adans
Highway system
SR 260 SR 262

State Route 261 (SR 261) is a 62.71-mile-long (100.92 km) state highway in the U.S. state of Washington. Serving Columbia, Franklin, and Adams counties, the highway begins at U.S. Route 12 (US 12) east of Starbuck and becomes concurrent with SR 260 from Kahlotus to SR 26 in Washtucna before ending at Interstate 90 (I-90) and US 395 in Ritzville. The highway has been legislated since 1937 from Ritzville to Washtucna as Secondary State Highway 11E (SSH 11E) and in 1957 from Waschtucna to the Starbuck area as a branch of SSH 11B. The two secondary highways became SR 261 during the 1964 highway renumbering, and a gap between Washtucna and Starbuck was not paved until the construction of the Snake River Bridge was completed in 1968.

Route description[edit]

SR 261 begins its 62.71-mile-long (100.92 km) route at an intersection with US 12 east of the town of Starbuck in rural Columbia County.[2] The roadway travels north over the Pataha Creek and turns west, paralleling the Tucannon River through Starbuck and to the south bank of the Snake River.[3] The highway passes over a rail bridge owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation before turning northwest and crossing the steel cantilever Snake River Bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, into Franklin County near Lyons Ferry Park.[4][5][6] At the north end of the bridge, SR 261 continues northwest, passing under a Union Pacific Railroad bridge and near Palouse Falls State Park,[4][7] before crossing the Columbia Plateau Trail and intersecting SR 260 northeast of Kahlotus.[8] A concurrency with SR 260 travels northeast into Adams County parallel to the Columbia Plateau Trail in the Palouse before entering Washtucna and being designated as Main Street.[2][8] Main Street intersects SR 26, forming the eastern terminus of SR 260, after the Columbia Plateau Trail turns east. SR 261 continues north into farmland and crosses the John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Ralston before its northern terminus at a diamond interchange with I-90 and US 395 southeast of Ritzville, becoming Division Street as it serves the city.[9][10]

Every year, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) conducts a series of surveys on its highways in the state to measure traffic volume. This is expressed in terms of average annual daily traffic (AADT), which is a measure of traffic volume for any average day of the year. In 2011, WSDOT calculated that between 300 and 3,000 vehicles per day used the highway, mostly between Washtucna and Ritzville.[11]


The Snake River Bridge at Lyons Ferry, built in 1968, carries SR 261 across the Snake River.

The Mullan Road was constructed in 1862 and crossed the Snake River with a ferry crossing at Lyons Ferry until the construction of the Lower Monumental Dam downstream caused the water level to rise and longer wait times, resulting in the reconstruction of the Snake River Bridge.[12][13] The current route of SR 261 from Washtucna to Ritzville was designated during the creation of the Primary and secondary state highways in 1937 as SSH 11E.[14][15] A branch of SSH 11B was added in 1957 that extended from Washtunca to US 410, later an extension of US 12,[16] east of Starbuck with an un-built bridge over the Snake River at Lyons Ferry.[17][18] Both highways became SR 261 during the 1964 highway renumbering,[1][19][20] but the section between Starbuck and Washtucna was not paved.[21] The completion of the Snake River Bridge in 1968,[21][22] using the dismantled steel cantilevered Vantage Bridge and listed onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1982,[5][12] finished the highway.[22][23] No major revisions of the highway have occurred since the construction of the bridge in 1968.[24]

Major intersections[edit]

County Location Mile[2] km Destinations Notes
Columbia   0.00 0.00 US 12 – Walla Walla, Lewiston Southern terminus
Snake River 14.78–
Snake River Bridge
Franklin   29.35 47.23 SR 260 west – Kahlotus, Washtucna South end of SR 260 overlap
Adams Washtucna 35.79 57.60 SR 26 / SR 260 ends – Othello, Colfax North end of SR 260 overlap
Ritzville 62.57–
I‑90 / US 395 – Spokane, Seattle, Pasco, Tri-Cities Northern terminus; interchange; continues as Division Street
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b "47.17.480: State route No. 261", Revised Code of Washington (Washington State Legislature), 1970, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d Staff (2012), State Highway Log: Planning Report 2011, SR 2 to SR 971 (PDF), Washington State Department of Transportation, pp. 1289–1295, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  3. ^ "Feature Detail Report for: Tucannon River", Geographic Names Information System (United States Geological Survey), September 10, 1979, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  4. ^ a b Washington State Department of Transportation (January 2012) (PDF). 2011 Washington State Rail System (Map). http://wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/FDBE2AB4-E504-4AC5-9E30-6A2CC4FAAD34/0/2011Ownership.pdf. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  5. ^ a b National Register of Historic Places; Annual Listing of Historic Properties (PDF), United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, March 1, 1983, p. 44, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  6. ^ Lyons Ferry Marina, Port of Columbia, 2007, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  7. ^ Washington State Parks (PDF). Palouse Falls State Park (Map). http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/thumbnailAndmaps/7150142.pdf. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Washington State Parks (PDF). Columbia Plateau Trail State Park South (Map). http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/thumbnailAndmaps/7160143.pdf. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  9. ^ Google, Inc. "State Route 261". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=WA-261+N&daddr=WA-261+N%2FS+Division+St&hl=en&ll=46.81056,-118.19192&spn=1.020698,2.705383&sll=47.117395,-118.36436&sspn=0.007929,0.021136&geocode=FZmuxQIdcOX3-A%3BFZH3zgIdAuLx-A&mra=me&mrsp=1,0&sz=16&t=m&z=9. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  10. ^ SR 90 - Junction SR 261 (PDF), Washington State Department of Transportation, April 23, 2012, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  11. ^ Staff (2011), 2011 Annual Traffic Report (PDF), Washington State Department of Transportation, p. 161, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  12. ^ Hadlow, Robert W. (August 1993), HAER Inventory: Snake River Bridge at Lyons Ferry (WA-88) (PDF), Historic American Engineering Record, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  13. ^ Washington State Legislature (March 17, 1937), "Chapter 207: Classification of Public Highways", Session Laws of the State of Washington, Session Laws of the State of Washington (1937 ed.), Olympia, Washington: Washington State Legislature, p. 1008, retrieved January 13, 2013, (d) Secondary State Highway No. 11E; beginning at Ritzville on Primary State Highway No. 11, thence in a southerly direction by the most feasible route to Washtucna to [on] Secondary State Highway No. 11B 
  14. ^ United States Geological Survey (1953) (JPG). Ritzville, 1953 (Map). 1:250,000. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/250k/txu-pclmaps-topo-us-ritzville-1953.jpg. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  15. ^ "Highway 410 is now U.S. No. 12", Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, December 28, 1967: 1 
  16. ^ Washington State Legislature (1957), Session Laws of the State of Washington, Session Laws of the State of Washington (1957 ed.), Olympia, Washington: Washington State Legislature, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  17. ^ Rand McNally (1947). Rand McNally Road Map of the United States (Map). 1:7,500,000. http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~23824~920008?id=1-1-23824-920008&name=Road+map+United+States. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  18. ^ Prahl, C. G. (December 1, 1965), Identification of State Highways, Washington State Highway Commission, Department of Highways, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  19. ^ United States Geological Survey (1965) (JPG). Ritzville, 1965 (Map). 1:250,000. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/250k/txu-pclmaps-topo-us-ritzville-1965.jpg. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  20. ^ a b United States Geological Survey (1963) (JPG). Walla Walla, 1963 (Map). 1:250,000. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/250k/txu-pclmaps-topo-us-walla_walla-1963.jpg. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  21. ^ a b United States Geological Survey (1981) (JPG). Walla Walla, 1981 (Map). 1:250,000. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/250k/txu-pclmaps-topo-us-walla_walla-1981.jpg. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  22. ^ Snake River Bridge at Lyons Ferry (WA-88) Also known as the Lyons Ferry Bridge or the Old Columbia River Bridge at Vantage, Washington State Department of Transportation, retrieved January 13, 2013 
  23. ^ Washington State Department of Transportation (2011) (PDF). Washington State Highways, 2011–2012 (Map). 1:842,000. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/14A6187A-B266-4340-A351-D668F89AC231/0/TouristMapFront_withHillshade.pdf. Retrieved January 13, 2013.

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing