Olympia will lower the speed limit on Capitol Boulevard north of the Tumwater border in an effort to make the road safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.
The current speed limit on Capitol Boulevard is 35 mph between Carlyon Avenue and the Interstate 5 overpass. The speed limit changes to 25 mph north of the overpass and remains 25 mph until Capitol Way ends at the Olympia Farmers Market.
With the proposed revision, the speed limit will become 25 mph along the entire length of Capitol within the Olympia city limits. City transportation staff say a consistent speed will make it safer for pedestrians crossing at O’Farrell Avenue and for vehicles that enter and exit the adjacent Wildwood Center.
Vehicles travel through that portion of Capitol Boulevard at an average speed of 29.4 mph, according to a city traffic study. Two vehicle accidents occurred in that vicinity in 2012-2015, but speed was not a factor in either incident, the city reports.
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Dave Smith, transportation project engineer, said the lower speed limit will give drivers “a greater ability to respond to action” along the road.
On Tuesday, the Olympia City Council unanimously approved a first reading of the ordinance that would enact the new speed limit. The ordinance will become final after a second reading Dec. 13.
Mary Beth Lang of the Wildwood Neighborhood Association said nearby residents strongly support the lower speed limit.
“It can be quite a hair-raising experience. There are quite a few blind spots that make it difficult,” she told the council Tuesday regarding safety for bicyclists as well as motorists turning into residential driveways and the shopping center. “We also feel reducing speed limits will help contribute to the establishment of bike corridors.”