MOSCOW, Idaho – Officials say a highway district’s attempt to slow drivers on some Latah County roads is unenforceable in court.
The North Latah County Highway District has posted 35 mph signs on most of its county roads. But district secretary Dan Carscallen says the legal limit is actually much faster – 55 mph.
Carscallen says state law prohibits highway districts from setting hard speed limits unless expensive traffic surveys are conducted on each road. That means many of the signs in Latah County are advisory and hardly “worth the tin they’re printed on,” Carscallen told the Lewiston Tribune.
Latah County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brian Strampher says 35 mph is probably the prudent speed for the roads.
“They post them 35, and they probably should be 35,” Strampher said. “We’ve written tickets on them. But when we go to court, we lose.”
Carscallen doesn’t anticipate lawmakers making any changes to the statewide 55 mph speed limit anytime soon. It’s a matter of politics, he said, and geography. Southern Idaho is largely flat, with clear sightlines compared with the rolling hills of the Palouse in north-central Idaho.
“It’s something that we have to deal with with our legislators. But it falls on deaf ears because it is written for south Idaho, where everything is on a section line as straight as a string,” he said.
Now the district is making another attempt to slow drivers on county roads by painting yellow traffic control center lines. The lines are intended to encourage drivers to stay on the sides of the roads, instead of cutting corners and driving down the middle of the lane.
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