Before taking the final vote, Spokane Valley City Council Member Bill Gothmann offered up an innocent question: “Do we set all the speed limits in the city?”
Turns out, at least on municipal roadways, the city does. And on Tuesday, it made a few changes.
Council members unanimously approved two requests by the Central Valley School District to establish new 20 mph school zones, which will go into effect immediately.
The first will be on Alki Avenue near North Pines Middle School on Pines Road. Students routinely walk on Alki, which is mostly without sidewalks, and are also dropped off across from the school on the south side of the road. The 20 mph limit, which will extend 400 feet west from Pines, will be reduced from the current 25 mph.
“I thought it was appropriate for 20 mph based on the (state’s) criteria,” said Inga Note, the city’s traffic engineer.
The second CVSD request was to install a second 20 mph school zone on Pines Road near South Pines Elementary School. While there is currently a school zone with flashing beacons between 22nd and 24th avenues, there is a second school crosswalk north up the hill at 19th, Note said. The zone would extend approximately between 18th and 20th avenues.
“For years, students have been crossing at 19th, but it’s not a school zone,” Note said.
Note said the city is reluctant to make the area a continuous 20 mph school zone as it would likely be ignored by drivers. Instead, there will be a three-block gap where the speed limit is not reduced.
The city is also looking to install sidewalks on the east side of Pines to complete an existing gap between 16th and 23rd, Note said.
Council Member Bob McCaslin asked Note what exactly is the legal definition of “when children are present” in school zones.
Note said the rules of the school zone apply when students are either at the crosswalk or on the adjacent roadway during actual school hours.
The council also OK’d increasing of the speed limit on a busy arterial. Since improvements have been made in the area of the Pines/Interstate 90 interchange area, Mansfield Road west of Pines – which had been narrow and made up of pockmarked, cracked asphalt – was also upgraded and widened. The speed limit, however, has remained 25 mph, which has caused some drivers to complain.
“They’ve probably received some tickets through there,” Note said.
The city conducted a speed study that concluded a 35 mph zone would be appropriate on Mansfield between Pines to the roundabout at Wilbur and Montgomery. Note added that it would also be in line with the eventual extension of Mansfield to Mirabeau Parkway.
Council Member Brenda Grassel asked if the city has looked at why some areas of Mission Avenue between Pines and Sullivan are posted at 30 mph. Note said that request, along with others, are currently under review.