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:
And coming back a few minutes later: