Petition to increase speed limit on Drayton Harbor Road moves forward

Published on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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The issue of increasing the speed limit on a part of Drayton Harbor Road has re-emerged as Whatcom County Council voted to introduce the change at a future council meeting.

The measure calls for increasing the speed limit from 25 mph to 35 mph on Drayton Harbor Road from Harborview Road west to the Blaine city limits. A public hearing preceding the vote by county council has not yet been scheduled.

Blaine resident Al Mason submitted a petition with 69 names supporting the speed limit change to county engineer Joe Rutan on October 30. Mason then dropped the matter after learning it would require a traffic study and public hearing.

According to Rutan, Mason later got re-involved after he learned the traffic study had already begun.

The traffic study revealed most people driving that stretch road already travel around 35 mph. Rutan said people usually drive the speed they feel comfortable with, so the majority of drivers going 35 mph on the road suggests it can handle that speed.

“A lot of times those black and white speed limit signs are only there to tell police what they can write tickets for,” Rutan said.

Rutan said the county council, not the county public works department, sets speed limits, since they are a matter of law. Public works staff provide a technical recommendation, and in this case are not against the change to 35 mph.

“On a technical basis only, we’re not adverse to that 35 mph increase,” Rutan said.

The speed increase may make the road safer to travel, since it will standardize the range of speeds people drive on the road. For example, a resident pulling out of their driveway onto Drayton Harbor Road doesn’t know if an oncoming car is traveling 25 or 35 mph. The new speed limit would give these residents a better idea of what to expect when leaving their homes, Rutan explained.

However, staff discovered that no one whose driveway abuts Drayton Harbor Road signed the petition. Rutan said this fact makes an eventual public hearing all the more critical.

Once the public hearing is scheduled, Rutan said notices will be sent to all residents along that stretch of Drayton Harbor Road to inform them of the meeting.