How fast Spokane Valley drivers get from point A to point B – especially on a controversial section of the Indiana and Mission parkways – could see City Council action sooner rather than later.
The council is set to readdress the issue at its Nov. 15 meeting.
During last week’s lengthy study session, the council set time aside to hash over general speed limits in the city but ultimately decided the biggest priority was revisiting an action last summer that left a section of the new roadway at 25 mph.
On July 25 the council, in a 4-3 vote, did not approve a city-staff recommended speed limit of 35 mph, despite that being the speed on the west of Sullivan Road and east of Flora Road.
Council Member Arne Woodard – who opposes an increase in 35 mph in the new one-way section of the arterial – told the council on Oct. 18 that, after talking with neighborhood residents, 30 mph would make the most sense.
“I think that’s a reasonable compromise,” Woodard said. “That’s what I’d like to see, and the neighbors all seem to agree.”
Council Member Bill Gothmann said the city has received over 100 letters complaining about the current 25 mph speed limit in the area, suggesting the city has essentially created a speed trap for businesses and their customers in the area.
“The road is built to go 35 mph,” he said. “That’s what the science says it should be. It was designed that way. That’s what the businesses are saying. That’s my 2 cents.”
There is some question about the speed limit at a roundabout at Mission and Flora, but Gothmann said people “naturally slow down” there.
Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels said he would prefer a 35 mph zone as there is no indication that there are issues of congestion or accidents in the area.
“The roundabout has its own slowness,” he said. “Enough said.”
Police Chief Rick Van Leuven said his officers have monitored speeds in the area and have been busy writing tickets. But, he added, it would be a strain to continue to do so.
“(I) feel 35 mph is would be a reasonable speed limit,” he said.
Woodard said that would not be something he would support.
“I still think we need to address this soon,” he said, adding that if the council waits until 2012 “we’re just frustrating everybody.”
“We need to get this out of our hair,” he said.
Mike Jackson, city manager, told the council a motion would be presented to change the speed limit to 35 mph. Also, he said, there would be a future discussion on “statutory” speed limits throughout the city that could rules for residential roads, minor arterials and major arterials across the city.
Also at last week’s meeting, council members did not waver from a longtime belief that a helmet ordinance is not needed in the city. While the city of Spokane has had such a law in place since 2004 – and Spokane County recently passed its own ordinance but without a monetary penalty – council members believe a more positive approach involving parents and education should continue.
“It’s a lot better than the negative approach,” said Mayor Tom Towey.