A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council leaves school zone in place

Written September 11th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

The school speed zone on southbound Waverly Drive starts here.

As far as the Albany City Council is concerned, the long 20-mph school zone on Southeast Waverly Drive is fine even though there’s no requirement for it to remain.

A month ago, Diana Conrad, a resident of the Mennonite Village off Waverly Drive south of the school zone, asked the council to remove the speed reduction on the grounds that it isn’t needed. The zone runs alongside the South Albany High School grounds, mainly the football field, for a little more than a quarter-mile from 36th Avenue to near Moraga Avenue.

On Monday, at a work session, the council was presented with four options: One was to reduce the school zone’s length to include one or both existing crosswalks within it. Another was to change the posting from “school days 7 to 5” to “when lights flash,” but that would involve some cost and coordination with school schedules.

A third alternative was to eliminate the school zone altogether, which is what the resident had requested and ODOT says is a possibility. At high schools, especially where there are crosswalks and signals, like on Waverly, ODOT does not always recommend school speed zones.

The fourth alternative was the easiest: “Take no action.” And that’s the one the council took.

The regular speed limit on that segment of Waverly is 40 mph. At 20 mph, traversing the school zone takes about 45 seconds, transportation analyst Ron Irish told the council. So removing the zone would save 20-some seconds of travel time, hardly a big gain.

I listened to the recording of the discussion provided on the council’s website. As far as I could make out amid the general mumbling toward the end, nobody raised the main question, illustrated by the videos below: If 40 mph is the proper speed limit on that street, what’s the justification for reducing it to 20 mph when nothing has changed and no pedestrians — young or old — are anywhere in sight, let alone trying to cross? (hh)

Heading south through the Waverly school zone on Tuesday afternoon:

[youtube video=”VVIJsQZlueU”]

And coming back a few minutes later:

[youtube video=”MJUZXPQe2iM”]

7 responses to “Council leaves school zone in place”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    Given that so many waste so much time waiting @Starbucks, waiting @ Dutch Bros., waiting @ Burgerville and waiting on the I-5, it seems that losing :20 seconds by slowing down on Waverly is extremely small potatoes. The City Council’s inertia on the issue is the perfect metaphor on an issue that a few believe needs speedy resolution.

    The fact that the Council continues to entertain public complaint on this issue simply points to how few actual problems exist in Our Fair City, or it demonstrates how easy it is to get bogged down in meaningless discussion on unimportant issues while the truly difficult problems are kicked down the road.

    • Keith Kendrick says:

      Mr. Jacobson–First of all I don’t waste any time waiting at any of those places you mention, and how much time I waste doing whatever shouldn’t be a factor in deciding speed limits.

      Furthermore, the issue really isn’t wasting 20 seconds, it’s the frustration caused by the annoyance of having to slow down to 20 mph for no reason. As the article said “the main question, . . . (is) If 40 mph is the proper speed limit on that street, what’s the justification for reducing it to 20 mph when nothing has changed and no pedestrians — young or old — are anywhere in sight, let alone trying to cross?”

      Last but not least–this is a HIGH SCHOOL, where some of the students are even old enough to join the military and kill people with government permission. We’re not talking about elementary or middle school kids. How about setting speed limits based on sound and good reasoning.

      • Avid Reader 1 says:

        So, you are saying that it is ok to run over a high school kid or two if they should, for some unknown reason, cross the street in front of a vehicle traveling at 40 miles an hour?

  2. tom cordier says:

    Fairmount school shold be another candidate to remove 20 mph school signs. No students walk that area. Post “caution pedestrian” signs like “caution deer” signs for the case some unruly options student decides to bolt.

  3. tom cordier says:

    If we want to get council to change —30 people need to show up at council meeting and demand it. Agree totally with Keith

  4. Terry says:

    Why would they change it?
    There’s no money in a change!


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