WSDOT is going to spend the next couple of weeks soliciting public comments about suggestions that have been made to lower the speed limit on SR 150 between Chelan and Manson.
This isn’t a new idea. It’s been considered before in 2005and 2006 with no statistically significant change since then. In response to more recent iquiries DOT traffic office did another speed study. The updated data supports setting the speed limit right between the current 45 mph speed limit and the 40 mph speed limit being requested. A five mph speed reduction adds a little less than a minute to the trip Manson and Chelan.
WSDOT engineers rely on data to set speed limits. The most recent study was done 7 to 8 weeks ago and we may not have had typical tourist traffic due to the cooler than normal weather and the low lake level. At the same time, the Deepwater Amphitheater and an upgraded Casino boosted traffic at times.
The DOT is doing something they don’t do very often – asking for opinions about a speed limit. Contrary to what most people think, speed limits aren’t arbitrarily set by WSDOT.
The speed study on SR 150 showed that 85% of the traffic was driving at or below 44 mph which indicates that is the speed most drivers feel comfortable with. Even if the speed limit sign said 50 mph, that 85th percentile figure wouldn’t be more than a mile or two higher, if it went up at all. By the “book if the 85th percentile was 47 mph DOT would leave the speed limit at 45. If the study had showed 42 mph DOT would change the signs to 40 without “asking”. If the speed limit were set at 35, it would most likely produce more rear end collisions or worse, more risky passing maneuvers when a 44 mph driver encounters the tourist going 35. Collisions can play a part in the considerations too, but in this case, there’s nothing in those numbers that provide a compelling argument for a lower speed.
On Monday August 15th DOT Regional Spokeman Jeff Adamson and traffic engineer Scott Cervine will be on KOZI’s Second Cup of Coffee program with Jay Witherbee, taking calls and counting them!
The DOT will take comments and calls until September 2. If it’s overwhelmingly slanted to one speed or the other, that’s probably what will happen. If the tally is close, they’ll be back where they started…