Walla Walla County officials have approved lowering the speed limit to 35 mph on Beet Road, a rural road outside of the city of Walla Walla that runs from Frog Hollow Road to the Washington-Oregon state line.
The speed limit on Beet Road is 50 mph, according to the county’s code of ordinances. Staff with the county Public Works department had recommended a speed limit of 40 mph between Stateline Road and Springdale Road and keeping the prior speed limit of 50 mph the remaining distance to Mojonnier Road.
However, due to a number of factors regarding the analysis of rural roads, the Public Works road safety study did not consider pedestrians in their study, according to staff.
Due to concerns of pedestrian safety which were aired during extensive public testimony in previous meetings, the Board of County Commissioners voted to approve lowering the speed limit to 35 mph, which residents had petitioned for.
The speed study found that many drivers speed on Beet Road, driving around 60 mph, according to county staff, and concerns were raised that a lowered speed limit would not necessarily discourage drivers from speeding.
“Even if the road is posted at 35 mph, people will go what they feel comfortable going, and I would want to minimize the need for that law enforcement as they’re already strained enough in this big county,” said Tony Garcia, director of the Public Works Department, in a Sept. 27 meeting.
With approval from the county commission, the county Public Works Department and Prosecuting Attorney’s Office have been directed to prepare an ordinance formally modifying county code to reflect the change in speed limit.