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Author Topic: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits  (Read 9334 times)

Tarkus

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Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« on: May 17, 2011, 12:05:45 AM »

Heard about this the other day . . . a couple Oregon state senators (Starr and Atkinson) are launching an effort to get Oregon's maximum speed limit on freeways upped to 75mph.  

They're discussing stuffing it into House Bill 3150, which was an effort launched by City of Portland lobbyists to do an end run around state speed zoning efforts by allowing statutory 20mph zones on vaguely-defined "greenways".

The plan does nothing to raise limits on non-interstates, is vague on truck split speeds (KMTR-TV said they'd be 60mph, meaning a 15mph split) and would apparently only affect I-5 and I-84.

As expected, the governor and some prominent ODOT/Oregon Transportation Commission types (who have killed off every previous legislative effort on this issue) don't like it.  I think the only way we're going to get higher speed limits is if "direct democracy" (i.e. a ballot measure) is used.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2011, 01:26:25 AM »

Quote
Oregon's 65 mph speed limit is the lowest of any state west of the Mississippi River.

Hawaii, with its speed limit of 60 is, apparently, to the east of the Mississippi, and fudge the International Date Line?

the article in general is noting that Portland wants to lower the speed limits across the board ... 25 in residential districts and what have you.  

I'll take 25 on residential streets, if they raise the rural speed limit to something sensible like 100 or 105!
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Tarkus

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2011, 05:14:41 PM »

the article in general is noting that Portland wants to lower the speed limits across the board ... 25 in residential districts and what have you.  

I'll take 25 on residential streets, if they raise the rural speed limit to something sensible like 100 or 105!

Actually, Portland wants some 20 zones on certain residential streets--"bike boulevards", or "greenways", as they've recently rechristened them.  The bill (HB 3150) did end up getting amended by the Senate Transportation Committee to add a clause that Portland could only do this after a speed study had proven that more than 85% of vehicles were going slower than 30mph and the traffic volume was less than 2000/day.  The Senate passed the bill in its amended form on the 1st, and the House approved the Senate's revisions yesterday.

They did not, however, manage to stuff the 75mph limit into the bill, unfortunately. 
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2011, 06:15:49 PM »

They did not, however, manage to stuff the 75mph limit into the bill, unfortunately. 

It would never get past the governor anyway.  He wouldn't sign for 70 during his previous 2 terms.

--Andy
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2011, 12:13:15 AM »

Given the last time the matter was "studied" only to conclude that many of the highway stretches were so remote that they were too far away from a major trauma hospital to tend to victims of high speed collisions...  Of course with criteria like that nothing will get done.

I'm surprised Oregon's Legislature hasn't passed a 50 MPH statewide maximum speed limit (with 35 in the Portland metro area...)
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2011, 06:33:52 PM »

I'm friends with someone who's dad is pretty high up in ODOT, and I had a talk with him about speed limits.  According to him, the reason why the state speed limit is set at 65 is because there's a hard law in place where the car traffic MUST be no more than 10 MPH above truck traffic.  Their reasoning is due to the fact most motorists don't give sufficient room when passing trucks, so trucks are forced to brake. 

Since Oregon allows triple trailer trucks, they refuse to increase truck speed limits from 55 to 60. 
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nexus73

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2011, 06:41:26 PM »

Split speed limits are not safe.  Other states are repealing them but Oregon, for all it's progressive reputation, is being run by reactionary types and then add in the do-littles to see why we're in such a mess out here. 

Here's an example of Oregon transportation stupidity.  When a bill came up to make school speed zones 24/7, only ONE legislator opposed it.  He was a cop who knew what kind of mess the law would make.  People got tickets they sure didn't need to be getting and not one iota of increase in safety came from this law, which took several years to repeal and finally take all actions on.

Rick
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Tarkus

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2011, 03:13:32 AM »

It would never get past the governor anyway.  He wouldn't sign for 70 during his previous 2 terms.

Unfortunately, yes, which means pretty much nothing is going to get done by the legislature on that front until (at least) 2014, at least not without some very clever political maneuvering. 

Given the last time the matter was "studied" only to conclude that many of the highway stretches were so remote that they were too far away from a major trauma hospital to tend to victims of high speed collisions...  Of course with criteria like that nothing will get done.

I'm surprised Oregon's Legislature hasn't passed a 50 MPH statewide maximum speed limit (with 35 in the Portland metro area...)

That "study" was a ridiculous joke.  I happened to finally run across it [link for those who are curious] the other day after a long while searching.   I found it rather funny that rather than having the main state highway engineering schools (OSU and OIT) do it, they farmed it out to PSU and OHSU, probably with the full knowledge that they'd produce a report that would keep the status quo.

And actually, Rep. Bob Jenson (from Pendleton, no less) actually tried re-instating a 55mph maximum with HB 2548 in 2009.  Fortunately, it didn't get anywhere.

I'm friends with someone who's dad is pretty high up in ODOT, and I had a talk with him about speed limits.  According to him, the reason why the state speed limit is set at 65 is because there's a hard law in place where the car traffic MUST be no more than 10 MPH above truck traffic.  Their reasoning is due to the fact most motorists don't give sufficient room when passing trucks, so trucks are forced to brake.

Actually, that's not at all true.  The only specification is that there must be a split speed, with the truck speed being a minimum of 5mph lower.  There's no maximum split size specified.  Allow me to quote ORS 810.180 (3) (I've added a bold annotation to highlight the pertinent bit).

Quote
      (3) The Department of Transportation may establish by rule designated speeds on any specified section of interstate highway if the department determines that speed limits established under ORS 811.111 (1) are greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the conditions that exist with respect to that section of the interstate highway. Designated speeds established under this subsection are subject to all of the following:

      (a) The department may not establish a designated speed under this subsection of more than:

      (A) Sixty-five miles per hour for vehicles described in ORS 811.111 (1)(b); and

      (B) Seventy miles per hour for all other vehicles.

      (b) If the department establishes designated speeds under this subsection that are greater than 65 miles per hour, the designated speed for vehicles described in ORS 811.111 (1)(b) (read: trucks, school buses, etc.) must be at least five miles per hour lower than the designated speed for all other vehicles on the specified section of interstate highway.

      (c) The department may establish a designated speed under this subsection only if an engineering and traffic investigation indicates that the statutory speed for the interstate highway is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under conditions the department finds to exist.

      (d) A designated speed established under this subsection is effective when appropriate signs giving notice of the designated speed are posted on the section of interstate highway where the designated speed is imposed.

The statutory speed limits defined in ORS 811.111 for interstates conforms to the current maximum--65 Cars/55 Trucks.  Nothing mandating a maximum split size there either.

Since Oregon allows triple trailer trucks, they refuse to increase truck speed limits from 55 to 60. 

That's all the more reason to ban triples.  They're evil and can barely stay in their own lane.  (I speak from recent experience--I ran across one triple trying to pass another on I-5 near Woodburn a few nights ago.)

Here's an example of Oregon transportation stupidity.  When a bill came up to make school speed zones 24/7, only ONE legislator opposed it.  He was a cop who knew what kind of mess the law would make.  People got tickets they sure didn't need to be getting and not one iota of increase in safety came from this law, which took several years to repeal and finally take all actions on.

That law was an absolute clusterbleep.  The current law is miles better, but still not exactly great either--they really ought to mandate flashing lights or flags be placed to indicate when school zones are actually in effect, rather than the blanket "7am-5pm" nonsense.
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mightyace

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2011, 03:51:41 AM »

Since Oregon allows triple trailer trucks, they refuse to increase truck speed limits from 55 to 60. 

That's all the more reason to ban triples.  They're evil and can barely stay in their own lane.  (I speak from recent experience--I ran across one triple trying to pass another on I-5 near Woodburn a few nights ago.)

Agreed.  Or, as I say it, keep the trains on the tracks!
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 02:19:43 AM »

Since Oregon allows triple trailer trucks, they refuse to increase truck speed limits from 55 to 60. 

That's all the more reason to ban triples.  They're evil and can barely stay in their own lane.  (I speak from recent experience--I ran across one triple trying to pass another on I-5 near Woodburn a few nights ago.)
I agree, ban the triples!  I've seen them on my occasional trips to Oregon and trying to pass one when there a breeze blowing is quite a harrowing experience.

I'm glad California doesn't allow triples and that all trucks are restricted to the right lanes and 55 MPH is the maximum speed limit.  BTW, cars towing trailers are bound to the same restrictions (right lane only and 55 MPH speed limit).  California does enforce a split limit which is usually 65 for cars and 55 for trucks although a 70/55 split does exist on rural freeways.  It's been reported that truckers are trying to get the 55 truck limit repealed in California but so far it's fallen on deaf ears.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2011, 04:22:00 PM »

That's because the split produces horribly congested traffic. Drive I-70 in Ohio or I-80 in Illinois to see the amazing transformation of traffic when the truck differential limit was repealed.

Traffic actually moves now. Also, trucks aren't banned from the left lane, they still can pass in the lane to the immediate left.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2011, 12:22:31 PM »

The Thruway does "no trucks, buses, or trailers left lane" in sections with three lanes or in work zones.  I suspect this is because they widen from the left and not the right and they don't want these vehicles to become trapped.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 10:19:44 PM »

I barely even see triples on the Ohio Turnpike and Indiana Toll Road. What's the point if you can only run them in a few locations? I'd be perfectly okay with sacrificing them to get the speed limits bumped to reasonable levels.
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andytom

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2011, 01:08:36 AM »

I'm friends with someone who's dad is pretty high up in ODOT, and I had a talk with him about speed limits.  According to him, the reason why the state speed limit is set at 65 is because there's a hard law in place where the car traffic MUST be no more than 10 MPH above truck traffic.  Their reasoning is due to the fact most motorists don't give sufficient room when passing trucks, so trucks are forced to brake.

Actually, that's not at all true.  The only specification is that there must be a split speed, with the truck speed being a minimum of 5mph lower.  There's no maximum split size specified.  Allow me to quote ORS 810.180 (3) (I've added a bold annotation to highlight the pertinent bit).

Quote
      (3) The Department of Transportation may establish by rule designated speeds on any specified section of interstate highway if the department determines that speed limits established under ORS 811.111 (1) are greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the conditions that exist with respect to that section of the interstate highway. Designated speeds established under this subsection are subject to all of the following:

      (a) The department may not establish a designated speed under this subsection of more than:

      (A) Sixty-five miles per hour for vehicles described in ORS 811.111 (1)(b); and

      (B) Seventy miles per hour for all other vehicles.

      (b) If the department establishes designated speeds under this subsection that are greater than 65 miles per hour, the designated speed for vehicles described in ORS 811.111 (1)(b) (read: trucks, school buses, etc.) must be at least five miles per hour lower than the designated speed for all other vehicles on the specified section of interstate highway.

      (c) The department may establish a designated speed under this subsection only if an engineering and traffic investigation indicates that the statutory speed for the interstate highway is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under conditions the department finds to exist.

      (d) A designated speed established under this subsection is effective when appropriate signs giving notice of the designated speed are posted on the section of interstate highway where the designated speed is imposed.

The statutory speed limits defined in ORS 811.111 for interstates conforms to the current maximum--65 Cars/55 Trucks.  Nothing mandating a maximum split size there either.

Chances are, the 'required' 10 mph split is an ODOT rule rather than a statute.

--Andy
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drummer_evans_aki

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2011, 11:10:25 PM »

I think Oregon's freeways should be at least 70mph in rural areas and 60mph in urban areas. Oregon's highways (state and US) should be 60mph in rural areas.
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agentsteel53

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2011, 11:46:06 PM »

I think Oregon's freeways should be at least 70mph in rural areas and 60mph in urban areas. Oregon's highways (state and US) should be 60mph in rural areas.

there are some very underused sections of highway in the eastern part of Oregon (US-395, US-95, US-20, etc) which could easily be 70-75, even though they are two-laners.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2011, 03:26:50 PM »

I think Oregon's freeways should be at least 70mph in rural areas and 60mph in urban areas. Oregon's highways (state and US) should be 60mph in rural areas.

there are some very underused sections of highway in the eastern part of Oregon (US-395, US-95, US-20, etc) which could easily be 70-75, even though they are two-laners.

Agreed. The section of US-20 from Bend to Burns could be 70. As could US-395 from the north end of OR-140 concurrency to the junction with US-20 in Riley. 95 throughout Eastern Oregon could also be 70. The only urban area that I.O.N. Hwy passes through is the town of Jordan Valley.
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roadfro

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2011, 12:53:20 AM »

Hopefully some headway will be made on this. I took a trip to Portland from Reno several years ago, and was astonished at how low speed limits were in Oregon.

There were some two-lane Oregon highways in the middle of nowhere, with straight sections and clear shoulders, that had speed limits around 50-55. In Nevada, such a highway would typically be posted at 65 or 70.

I also recall several freeways in Portland being posted at 55, and driving south from there it seemed like forever before the speed limit on I-5 went up to 65. Nevada standard is 65 on urban freeways, with rural Interstates at 70 (or 75 in some cases).
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J N Winkler

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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2011, 05:41:07 PM »

I am skeptical of an increase ever happening--not just because of the current Governor, but also because Oregon has had low speed limits for so long (NMSL repeal was 15 years ago now) that it has become a point of pride.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2011, 07:37:15 PM »

I am skeptical of an increase ever happening--not just because of the current Governor, but also because Oregon has had low speed limits for so long (NMSL repeal was 15 years ago now) that it has become a point of pride.

That's not a point of pride, that's a point of idiocy.  Same idiocy we have here in Illinois and Wisconsin.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2011, 08:19:35 PM »

how were the speed limits in these states before 1974?
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2011, 10:16:52 PM »

how were the speed limits in these states before 1974?


I remember when I was a kid the speed limit on I-5 in the Willamette Valley was 70.  I assume I-84 (then I-80N) was the same but I'm not sure.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2011, 10:37:19 PM »

thus, a very strange point of pride.  a lot of states went back to their pre-1974 speed limits quickly upon the NMSL being repealed.  Montana even tried the "reasonable and prudent" approach - too bad our species turned out to be neither of those!  :pan:

Nevada I know had a "reasonable and prudent" law on a lot of their rural highways as well before NMSL.  Any other states besides those two which had no formal speed limit?  

I think some states have actually gone higher than pre-NMSL limits.  Kansas was up to 80, but I do not know of any other state that signed above 75 (apart from not having a numerical limit at all).  So Texas and Utah have exceeded that amount, with the pending 85 being the highest speed limit in the country.  

Any other examples of states which have exceeded their previous highest speed limits?  I cannot confirm this, but I believe CA was 65 before 1974 but can be as high as 70 today.  Massachusetts may have been as low as 60, though I do not know the Turnpike speed limit.  I just know I have seen a photo of Speed Limit 60 on I-95/MA-128 before 1974.  They raised to 65 by the late 1980s.  I remember the speed limit being 55 on I-95, I-495 etc when I was a kid ... and the cops enforcing about 74.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2011, 11:32:08 PM »

thus, a very strange point of pride.  a lot of states went back to their pre-1974 speed limits quickly upon the NMSL being repealed.  Montana even tried the "reasonable and prudent" approach - too bad our species turned out to be neither of those!  :pan:

That's Oregon exceptionalism for you.  Pre-NMSL the speed limit on rural Interstates was 70 (this can be confirmed from contemporary S-drawings accessible through the Oregon DOT website), but Tom McCall's legacy has had forty years to set like concrete.
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Re: Efforts to raise Oregon's speed limits
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2011, 12:26:37 AM »

PA Turnpike opened with no speed limit, but one was quickly instituted a year or two later. Oh, and the earliest road with no speed limit was the Long Island Motor Parkway.
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