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Self-appointed traffic cops sans badges

We all know that countless motorists drive too fast in residential areas. There is no need for a debate about that. It's simply a fact.

So it is certainly understandable when homeowners try to persuade those behind the wheel to be more careful.

But it has to be said. A few of the “Slow down!” shouters are slightly unhinged and yell at people who are not, in fact, exceeding the speed limit.

I'm sure these frustrated residents of busy streets are a tiny minority of the well-intentioned traffic-calming vigilantes. But a few of them make me think of the annoying woman in “The Simpsons” would could always be counted on to cry out, “Won't someone PLEASE think of the children!”

New 80 mph speed limit brings more tickets

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho State Police say troopers have handed out more speeding tickets on interstates where speed limits have increased to 80 mph compared to the same time period last year. The agency tells the Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/1AXmt2b) in a story on Thursday that some drivers appear to think the new 80 mph speed limit means they can drive 90 mph. But agency spokeswoman Teresa Baker says troopers aren't giving a break on speeding tickets to anyone going over 80 mph. Speed limits on rural sections of Interstates 84, 86 and 15 increased from 75 to 80 mph in late July. The agency says at least two crashes in south-central Idaho can be attributed to the higher speed due to drivers misjudging distance and then not being able to react fast enough.

New 80 mph speed limits to take effect Thursday, but only once signs are up…

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Transportation Department says speed limits on rural sections of interstates in the southern part of the state will go up to 80 mph starting Thursday. That's an increase from 75 mph on rural sections of Interstates 15, 84 and 86. Speed limits for trucks will increase to 70 mph. The agency says speed limits on interstates in urban areas will remain unchanged at 65 mph. Speeds will also not increase in northern Idaho. Agency officials say the speed limits won't increase until signs are put in place. Lawmakers approved the increases earlier this year.

ITD board approves 80 mph speed limits for three southern Idaho freeway routes

The Idaho Transportation Board has voted unanimously to approve 80 mph speed limits for southern Idaho freeway stretches on I-84, I-86 and I-15 that now are 75 mph, but only after a long discussion of questions about the changes and with the condition that the new limits be reviewed in one year. The board’s resolution, approved this afternoon during its meeting in Coeur d’Alene, takes note of comments received from the Idaho Trucking Association and AAA of Idaho, and also notes that the new state law allowing the higher speeds requires the board’s concurrence for them to be imposed. The ITD's staff had recommended the changes, after traffic studies showed motorists already are traveling that fast on those routes.

New law requires ITD board to review 80 mph speeds, but board delegated that to its staff

Idaho's new 80 mph speed limit law specifically requires that the state Transportation Board approve any speed limit boosts under the new law – the bill repeated that requirement four times – but the board delegated the matter to its staff and hadn't planned to review the changes. Then, after the department announced that an array of southern Idaho freeway routes would go to 80 mph on July 1 and changes to North Idaho routes were being studied, it heard concerns from the public and changed course. Now, the board will review the proposed higher speeds in southern Idaho at its regular meeting Friday in Coeur d’Alene.

Board members and department officials say they don't think they violated the new law.“I guess it might be kind of a gray area,” said Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness. ITD Board Chairman Jerry Whitehead said, “The board delegates a lot of things. However, we’re going to have a review of that whole thing” at the board meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, author of the new law, SB 1284, said he intended the board's review to allow for public input. But Whitehead says he sees little need for public input, as the department's speed studies provide that by documenting the speeds drivers are going on the routes now. “If the traffic is already going 80 mph … then it’s probably a no-brainer,” Whitehead said. “I don’t know as we need public input.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Idaho’s new 80 mph speed limit scrutinized

When Idaho lawmakers this year voted to boost the state’s top speed limit to 80 mph, all the focus was on southern Idaho, where the road to Utah connects up to a similarly wide, smooth freeway that already has an 80 mph limit. But the Idaho Transportation Department has announced that in the wake of the new law, it’s studying all rural stretches of interstate freeway in the state - including I-90 in North Idaho - to see where the new higher limit may be warranted. That’s raising some eyebrows in North Idaho.

“The roads are not as straight and flat as down there, and it just doesn’t work,” said former state Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, who chaired the Senate Transportation Committee until 2012. “In fact, I’m surprised that there would be any recommendations for higher speed limits up here.”

Damon Allen, ITD’s district engineer for North Idaho, said, “We didn’t have necessarily any 80 mph candidates, but we did have a couple of segments of I-90 that might bump up 5 mph, maybe to 75. So we’re going to do those studies this summer.” Allen said the stretch of I-90 from Stateline to Coeur d’Alene could rise from 70 mph to 75, and the stretch roughly from Kellogg to Wallace could go up from 65 to 70 mph.

Locals haven’t been requesting speed limit boosts, Allen said. “Nah, it’s been really quiet about the speeds up here.” But the new law prompted ITD to take a look at it. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Utah boosts rural interstate speed limit up to 80 mph

For travelers on I-84 heading east toward Oregon, Idaho can feel like the speediest state around, with its 75 mph speed limit on the freeway. But as soon as motorists hit the Oregon line, they drop back down to a 65 mph limit. Now, Utah is taking it up a notch: That state passed a new law this year raising speed limits on rural stretches of interstate to 80 mph, after a Utah Department of Transportation study showed fewer crashes at the higher speed. Signs are going up this week with the new limits. Among the new, speedier stretches: Interstate 15 from north of Brigham City to the Idaho border in northern Utah; Interstate 80 from the Nevada border to Utah Route 36 in eastern Utah; and I-15 between Santaquin and North Leeds in central-southern Utah. Click below for a full report from the AP in Salt Lake City. 

Saturday’s highlights

University High School sophomores Ashley Lewis and Lindsey Knight sign holiday cards and attach them to toys for children adopted by their Titan advisory period class. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It's another lovely Monday morning, which means it is time for the Saturday Valley Voice highlights. Reporter Lisa Leinberger spoke to students at University High School who participated in the school's annual Adopt-A-Tot toy drive.

The Spokane Valley Police Department has been accredited by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. They are the only contract law enforcement agency in Washington to take this step. The Spokane Valley City Council voted to lower the speed limit on a stretch of Mission between Flora and Barker in Greenacres. The city is also considering whether to keep the traffic light at Sprague and Progress.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on second year Freeman boys basketball coach John Graham. He brought a new style of coaching to the school that has apparently been successful.

Saturday’s highlights

West Valley junior Jacque Swanson, left, and senior Linda Juitt have helped open Inspire, a clothing store for lower-income and budget-minded students. As a part of their Family, Career and Community Leaders of America program, they’ve opened the in-school store two days a week. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

School and city news dominated the Saturday Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger weighed in with a story on longtime Central Valley board member Cynthia McMullen, who has retired after 24 years. Lisa also met up with a few high school girls who have set up a store at West Valley High School called Inspire. The store is there to sell designer clothes for prices low enough that all students can afford them.

The Spokane Valley City Council had a lengthy discussion last week on the speed limit on Mission Ave. between Flora and Barker. No decision was made, but they did agree to move forward on a vote this month to consider whether the limit should be changed from 35 miles per hour. The council also heard a report on the Shoreline Management Program, which is currently stalled. A new plan must be approved by 2013.

In more school news, correspondent Steve Christilaw had a story about new West Valley High School wrestling coach Mike Bundy. Last year he was the assistant wrestling coach at Central Valley High School.

Busy SV council meeting tonight

The list of reports on tonight's Spokane Valley City Council agenda looks long enough to ensure that we'll be in the council chambers until Wednesday. The many topics up for discussion tonight include entry signs, car shows in city parks, the old Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way, speed limits, code compliance, the sign code and helmet safety. If one of those strikes your interest, head over to City Hall at 11707 E. Sprague at 6 p.m. to listen in on the discussion. Tonight is a study session, so no public comment will be taken.