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Longview prepares to lower speed limits near schools, parks

Several Longview streets will have their speed limits lowered next week as part of an effort to increase pedestrian safety.

Sections of nine city roads will have their speed limits reduced to 25 miles per hour, matching the default speed for the majority of the city. The change will officially take place on October 14, and city crews are preparing to install dozens of new speed signs to drive the change home to motorists.

Speed limit sign

A speed limit sign along Seventh Avenue on Oct. 5. The street is among the Longview roads being reduced to 25 miles per hour later this month.

The streets were chosen for the speed reduction because of their proximity to schools and parks, which attract the biggest amount of foot traffic.

Roads affected by the reduction

  • Seventh Avenue between Washington Street and Tennant Way
  • 15th Avenue between Ocean Beach Highway and Washington Way
  • 30th Avenue
  • 38th Avenue between Pacific Way and Ocean Beach Highway
  • Beech Street
  • Glenwood Drive
  • Nichols Boulevard
  • Olympia Way between Ocean Beach Highway and 17th Avenue
  • Pacific Way between Ocean Beach Highway and 30th Avenue

Public Works Director Ken Hash proposed the speed reduction plan to the Longview City Council at a workshop in August. Fatal accidents are relatively rare in Longview, but Hash said 80% of the fatal incidents that have occurred recently took place on streets with speed limits of at least 30 miles per hour.

One Finnish study frequently cited to support lower speeds found pedestrians survived 95% of collisions that happen at 20 MPH, but only 60% of collisions at 30 MPH.

“In the long term, our bike and pedestrian fatalities have trended upward. If you’re striving to get to zero road fatalities, you have to address those too,” Hash said.

The City Council approved the speed limit changes for the handful of roads in September by removing them from the city’s list of permitted higher speed limits. Washington state law sets the default speed limit on all city and town roads to 25 MPH, unless specified otherwise by local municipalities.

Between now and Oct. 14, city public works crews will install signs with the lowered speed limit every quarter mile along the affected roads. Hash plans to work with the Longview Police Department to place speed feedback trailers along some of the roads as an additional reminder and incentive to drivers.

Hash said he hopes the new signs and flashing reminders will get the vast majority of drivers to break their habits and match the new speed limits.

“I’d rather entice them with a carrot than hit them with a stick. It should be an incentive to slow down and save a life,” Hash said.

Hash and the Complete Streets Committee considered taking additional speed reduction steps in the future. Whether those are enacted by the City Council will depend partly on how the upcoming speed changes are received.

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