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Salem Watch: Speed limit bill scaled down to focus solely on residential streets

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Earlier today we reported on a hearing scheduled for a new bill that would give Oregon cities the authority to set lower speed limits on state highways all types of roadways. Now, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ben Cannon (D-Portland), the bill has been scaled back to only focus on residential streets.

In its original form, House Bill 3150 would have given cities with a population of 100,000 or more the authority to set speed limits on all roads — including state highway arterials — under certain conditions. The language of that bill will now be completely changed in order for it to be the House companion bill to Senate Bill 344. SB 344 is the City of Portland-backed bill that seeks to give cities the authority to set lower speed limits on certain residential streets, a.k.a. neighborhood greenways.

What’s more, HB 3150 will define the term “neighborhood greenway” in Oregon law (something SB 344 doesn’t include).

Here’s the new language:

“Authorizes road authority to designate speed on neighborhood greenway in its jurisdiction that is five miles per hour lower than statutory speed un- der specified circumstances. Defines “neighborhood greenway.”…

A road authority may establish by ordinance a designated speed for a neighborhood greenway under the jurisdiction of the road authority that is five miles per hour lower than the statutory speed.

The road authority shall post a sign giving notice of the designated speed at each end of the portion of the neighborhood greenway where the designated speed is imposed and at such other places on the neighborhood greenway as may be necessary to inform the public. The designated speed shall be effective when signs giving notice of the designated speed are posted.

As used in this subsection, “neighborhood greenway” means a highway* in a residence district that:

  • As determined by the road authority having jurisdiction over the highway, has an average volume of fewer than 2,000 motor vehicles per day, more than 85 percent of which are traveling less than 30 miles per hour; and
  • Has a traffic control device that indicates the presence of pedestrians or bicyclists.

[*”Highway” in Oregon law is a general term for all public roads and does not refer to freeways.]

For more on designating speeds, see the ORS this bill would amend, 810.180.

Reached on the phone today, an aide for Rep. Cannon said the initial bill language came out of conversations about how to tame speeds on SE Foster Road; but now Cannon feels that starting only with smaller, residential streets is a better first step (not to mention much easier politically) than changing speed limits on major arterials. It also makes sense to partner with PBOT. Having two similar bills will increase awareness of the issue and makes it more likely that one of them will pass.

A hearing for HB 3150 will take place at next Friday (2/25) from 1-3:00 pm in Hearing Room D at the Capitol Building in Salem.

Follow our legislation coverage here.

NOTE: I apologize for all the confusion on this bill. I just edited to story to reflect the fact that in its initial form, HB 3150 would have applied to all roadway types.