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Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill Makes It Easier to Reduce Speed Limits

January 8, 2014 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Traffic Regulation and Enforcement

Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill Makes It Easier to Reduce Speed Limits

Legislation passed in 2013 provides a simplified process for reducing the speed limit on certain city and town streets (but not on county roads).  HB 1045, also known as the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill, which amends RCW 46.61.415, allows a reduction of the speed limit to 20 m.p.h., without an engineering and traffic investigation, “on a nonarterial highway, or part of a nonarterial highway, that is within a residence district or business district.” Prior to the adoption of this amendment, if a city desired to reduce the speed limit on a residential street, it could only do so if it first conducted an engineering and traffic investigation.

According to the HB 1045 Final Bill Report, such an investigation would consider factors such as the speed of the 85th percentile of drivers on the road, road characteristics, parking practices, pedestrian activity, roadside development and environment, a history of crashes, and other factors.  Obviously, such an investigation could be both costly and time-consuming.

Before a city can reduce a speed limit under this new provision, however, it must first “develop procedures” to do so.  (The legislation does not detail what those procedures might be, although, I speculate, they might include a requirement for a recommendation by the city engineer or police department, notice, and an opportunity for those who might be affected to provide comment.)

Any speed limit established under this new provision may be canceled within one year of its establishment, and the previous speed limit reestablished, without an engineering and traffic investigation.

See MRSC resources on Speed Limits and Traffic Calming

 Speed limit at CWU campus in Ellensburg. Courtesy of Potjie.

About Paul Sullivan

Paul has worked with local governments since 1974 and has authored MRSC publications on local elections, ordinances, and general local government operations. He also provides training on the Open Public Meetings Act.



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