The Spokane Valley City Council decided Tuesday that speed limits will stay low in the Greenacres neighborhood.
In a 4-3 vote, the council rejected a 35 mph speed limit on the new couplet that extends Indiana Avenue east to the Flora and Mission intersection.
The current speed limit on Indiana east of Sullivan is 25 mph. The road used to dead-end just past a couple of office buildings, but now continues through. The sections of Indiana west of Sullivan and Mission east of Flora are both 35 mph and traffic engineer Inga Note said she was recommending a speed of 35 mph because traffic studies show that drivers are already driving about 35 mph on the section of Indiana that is zoned 25 mph.
Councilman Dean Grafos recommended dropping the speed to 30 mph on the new couplet. “My recommendation would be to have consistency,” said Note. “It would be confusing to drivers to go back and forth.”
“I think that would be a wonderful speed trap,” said Councilman Bill Gothmann. “That’s why I’m not in favor of doing it.”
Traffic will dramatically increase when the new road opens, said Councilman Arne Woodard. “This is a safety issue.” He said 35 mph was too fast. “What are we, lunatics?”
He suggested a speed limit of 25 or 30 mph and said he didn’t mind if it created a speed trap. “Get out there and speed trap it,” he said. “We need the revenue.”
Greenacres resident Mary Pollard urged the council to lower the speed limit from 35. “The couplet should be 30 mph,” she said. “Let’s have some respect for neighborhoods. It is the off ramp to our neighborhood.”
Councilwoman Brenda Grassel said very few streets in Spokane Valley are set at 30 mph and the new road should be at 35 mph as suggested. “I guess my concern is being consistent,” she said.
Councilmembers Woodard, Grafos and Chuck Hafner voted against setting the speed limit at 35 mph, as did Mayor Tom Towey. Gothmann, Grassel and Gary Schimmels voted for the 35 mph limit. Since the measure was voted down, the speed limit will remain at 25 mph unless the council addresses the issue again.
In other business, the council also discussed whether or not to move ahead with an engineering study and preliminary design work for railroad quiet zones at the Park Road and Vista Road Union Pacific Railroad crossings north of Trent Avenue. A group of residents presented the council with a petition last year asking for the zones. The study would cost an estimated $82,551.
“I understand it might take three to five years to close this,” said Schimmels. “It is a lot that you have to go through,” said Note.
Schimmels said a resident recently spoke before the council and said the situation had gotten a lot better. “I’m wondering if because of that this isn’t a moot point,” he said.
Gothmann suggested tabling the issue until the council could get more information from residents on whether a quiet zone is still needed. “I think we’re a little early,” he said. The council voted unanimously to table the motion to pay for the study.
The council also discussed the city’s signs on Interstate 90. The Exit 285 sign for eastbound traffic reads “Sprague Avenue” even though cars actually end up on Appleway Boulevard. Some members of the council had previously asked city staff for information on changing the sign.
The city has several options, said Note. It could simply replace the sign with one that reads “Appleway Blvd.” for about $10,000. A new, larger sign that lists both Sprague and Appleway could be installed, but the city might be responsible for installing larger sign supports for a total between $60,000 and $100,000. The city could also apply for a Sprague Avenue business route, which would require permission from several governmental agencies and would again cost between $60,000 and $100,000, not counting the additional signs that would be required along Sprague.
Grassel said she preferred the second option because if Sprague Avenue is removed from the sign entirely it might be confusing to people. Grafos said he liked the third option. “It would really identify the main route going through our city,” he said.
The council asked staff to get more detailed information on the various options. It will be discussed again at a future council meeting.