Cities in Oregon Can Now Apply to Have Their Own Speed Restrictions Set

Speed Restrictions: The state of Oregon has recently allowed cities and two counties to set their own speed restrictions.

Lawmakers in Oregon unanimously approved HB 3055 in 2021. The bill, which amends many transportation legislation in the state, is 77 pages long. One of the modifications gives municipalities more say over speed limits.

The process should pick up speed once towns and counties are given the ability to do so, according to ODOT spokeswoman Don Hamilton. “It ought to allow the local governments a little bit more say in what they do.”

Since the state’s administrative rules pertaining to the new law have been finalized, the law can now be implemented.

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Cities in Oregon Can Now Apply to Have Their Own Speed Restrictions Set

Before this modification, local governments in Oregon were required to submit requests to lower speed limits to the state’s traffic highway engineer. Since the Speed Control Board only met once or twice a year to debate adjustments, Hamilton warned that this may be a lengthy process.

There are just five state investigators looking into speeding right now, one for each of the state’s five regions.

While the Speed Control Board will be relieved of some of its duties, ODOT believes that local governments will benefit most from this shift in power.

The new regulation covers the unincorporated areas of Multnomah and Clackamas counties as well as Oregon’s 241 incorporated municipalities. In order to change the speed limit in unincorporated areas of other counties, they will still need to work with state officials.

If a municipality wants to alter an existing speed limit, it must first submit an application to the state for permission to do so.

Cities in Oregon Can Now Apply to Have Their Own Speed Restrictions Set
Cities in Oregon Can Now Apply to Have Their Own Speed Restrictions Set

If the city’s application is granted, it will need to establish its own procedure for calculating the appropriate speed limit. The municipality may delegate responsibility to an existing board, establish a brand-new board, or establish a new position.

Hamilton cited Southwest Hall Boulevard in Tigard as an illustration. He claimed that the city is thinking about reducing the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph along a certain section of road. If the city seeks and receives permission to set its own speed restrictions, it can do so without having to wait for the state to act.

It is also possible for cities to raise speeds.

Hamilton emphasized the need of providing thorough and clear information in applications submitted to the local government in requests to lower speed limits.

Changing the speed limit in your city, Multnomah County, or Clackamas County requires you to notify ODOT in writing. Once the relevant department receives the notification, the revised speed limit will go into effect 30 days later.

Speed limits are not flexible everywhere, however. The law and local ordinance both dictate minimum safe speeds on Oregon roads. State statutes establish these maximum allowable speeds.

For instance, the legal limit in a residential area must be no more than 25 miles per hour. There is a 25 mph limit in school zones and a 65 mph limit on most interstates.

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Hamilton has stated that communities will not be able to alter these speed restrictions because they have been determined through an engineering study.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has said that all designated speed limits, whether set by ODOT or by a city or county with delegated authority, would adhere to the same procedures and criteria.

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