The school speed zone on Albany’s Waverly Drive S.E. is on the agenda of the city’s Traffic Safety Commission next week, but don’t expect a recommendation or other substantive action any time soon.
The traffic panel will meet at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, in the Periwinkle Room at City Hall. The Waverly issue is on the agenda. But transportation systems analyst Ron Irish says not to expect any deliberations then.
“We’re still in the process of collecting data and putting together an engineering study,” he told one of the commission members in an email. “That will then get routed past the school district for comment before being presented to both the TSC and Bike/Ped Commission for review and comment. So the TSC’s actual deliberation process will probably occur at your meeting in February. On Monday what I’ll be going through is a description of how the current school zone is posted, what the state laws are regarding school zones, and the concerns brought forward this far by residents. It’s basically background information to inform your future discussions.”
Separately, two residents of south Albany have asked the city council to abolish the 20 mph speed zone on Waverly next to the football field of South Albany High School. The council took no action on the first request this August. After the second, on Nov. 5, Mayor Sharon Konopa suggested that this was a topic for the traffic safety panel.
The request in November came from Johnny Scot Van Ras, a retired paper mill worker, who got a $165 ticket for going 39 mph during school hours on Oct. 11. He is challenging the ticket in city court, and a trial date has been set for 11:15 a.m. on Jan. 28.
The normal speed limit on that section of Waverly is 40 mph. The critics say the 20 mph school zone is unnecessary because of the characteristics of the street — straight, good visibility, fenced off from the school property, with designated and signalized crossings, and little use by people on foot.
Also, the lower speed applies on school days, which is common next to school property in Oregon, but with frequent days off in Oregon schools, drivers don’t necessarily know what’s a school day and what’s not.
The Traffic Safety Commission is comprised of five appointed members headed by Ron Green. The others are Mark Taleff, Chuck Kratch, Will Sheppy, and Courtney Stubbs. They meet about every other month. (hh)
This story has been edited to make clear that no recommendation on the speed zone is likely to come out of Monday’s meeting.