A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Speed limit approved for NA’s Scenic Drive

Written March 6th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Looking north on Scenic Drive on March 4. The rural road will have a 45-mph speed limit as soon as signs can be posted.

Scenic Drive, a rural road in North Albany, has never had a speed limit other than the basic rule, which meant 55 mph, but that will change soon.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has approved a request by Benton County to set 45 mph as the speed limit on Scenic from Oak Grove Drive to Spring Hill Drive. That’s a distance of about 2.27 miles.

Albany City Manager Peter Troedsson told the city council about this in his weekly report on Friday. The city had supported Benton County’s request and was notified when ODOT approved it.

Why the change? I asked Benton County Engineer Laurel Byer, and she sent me the history:

“Scenic Drive has long been a ‘repeat customer’ for speed complaints. With new state guidance and increasing development along the corridor, the county asked the state to consider lowering the speed limit. The section between Oak Grove and Spring Hill was basic rule and no speed limit was posted at all.  The State completed their study and determined that the 50th percentile was traveling at 49 mph, so there was an option of posting it at 50 mph or the county could request five mph below the 50th percentile.  That is how we arrived at the 45 mph posting.”

Traffic on the road is light. There had been some crashes over the years, usually rear-enders resulting in property damage only, and no fatalities for the last five years, Byer told me.

The 45 mph limit will take effect once the county posts speed signs. This requires action by the Board of County Commissioners. No date for that action has yet been set, and Byer does not expect it before the end of March or in April.

I’ve read that traffic speed is determined mainly by road design and conditions. This section of Scenic is mostly wide and straight, with good pavement and little traffic, so the chances that new signs will slow anybody down are slight. (hh)

7 responses to “Speed limit approved for NA’s Scenic Drive”

  1. Nathan Conroy says:

    I welcome the reduction in speed, especially through the curves, where there are often walkers and bikers combined with cars tempted to cut the corners into the bike lanes

    • SeeS says:

      The curves are already 45. This is the longer stretch on the north side of Gibson Hill.

      • Hasso Hering says:

        Which “curves”? To what does “this” refer? Until now, there has been no stated speed limit on Scenic north of, roughly, Oak Grove Drive.

  2. Everett L Hartman says:

    The Speed Limit on Gibson Hill Road needs to be unified and reduced to 35 mph. Currently it 40 and even 45 on a stretch with a park, fire station and heavily used sidewalks. Time to be safe before a tragic event forces the speed change !

    • hj.anony1 says:

      I’m a fan of the last of the statement. Allow me to quote:

      “…before a tragic event forces the speed change !”

  3. Virginia Cooper says:

    For me this new speed limit is most welcome not just because of the walkers, bikers and joggers that use the Scenic Drive shoulders, but the deer that live in the area and are constantly crossing the road.

  4. Rich says:

    Finally, common sense prevails. I was involved in a request to do a speed study several years ago now but it was flawed. The sensors were placed in a more open area around Palestine so the average speed limit was higher and the county would not address a change at that time. This time it was placed farther south around Sparks where there are a large number of road approches (and deer) leading to a more logical conclusion. I also heartily agree with the statement “…before a tragic event forces the speed change !” I look forward to seeing the signs posted.


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