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State nixes speed limit changes


The Washington State Department of Transportation has nixed any change in the speed limit from Coulee Playland to the city limits of Grand Coulee.

The Electric City council had the topic on its agenda Tuesday night, but a letter from the DOT answered the question before city officials had to deal with it.

The request for the city to consider the change came from Ron Pulsipher, an Electric City resident, who wanted the speed limit changed so he could drive his ATV from the city to Grand Coulee on SR-155.

At his request, the city staff put the issue on the agenda for Tuesday night’s discussion.

Pulsipher had argued that the many changing speed limits from the edge of the city to Grand Coulee confused drivers from out of the area.

He had a little encouragement when the DOT stated that changing the speed limit depended on the results of a department engineering study.

That study was just completed and the DOT informed the city of its decision Tuesday morning, just in time for the city council meeting.

The study, according to George Stuart, traffic operations, stated: “Research on operating speeds on streets and highways shows that when the character of their surroundings changes, drivers naturally adjust their speed to what they feel comfortable with. A good example would be if you drive south through Electric City at 35 mph and then continue across the causeway at 35 mph you would find it difficult to keep your speed at 35 mph because it feels too slow. If you drive northbound across the causeway at 50 mph and continue at 50 mph through town it is clearly too fast and no rational driver would do that.”

Stuart continued: “A speed limit set below what most drivers consider a reasonable speed will receive poor compliance. If constant enforcement is required to force drivers to comply with the speed limit, that speed limit is likely too low. Law enforcement agencies typically don’t have the personnel to patrol one speed zone all the time.”

He also stated: “Our top priority is safety and a lower speed limit does not necessarily guarantee a safer highway.”

Stuart summed up the study: “In the 45 mph section of SR-155 that was the subject of our study, the radar speed data indicated an 85 percentile speed of 48 mph. The crash history shows eight crashes in the past 10 years, five of which did not produce injuries. Of the three that did, two were classified as possible injuries and one as a suspected minor injury. Only two of the crashes indicated that speed was a factor, one of which was ice on the roadway and the other was driver inattention.”

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