Oregon City Council on March 14 will consider hiking the speed limit on Otter Creek Road to 45 mph from 35 mph.
The proposal is based on a speed study performed by DGL Consulting Engineers, LLC. “That study was subsequently approved by ODOT,” said Oregon Public Service Director Paul Roman at a committee of the whole meeting on March 7.
Roman said he didn’t mind if the proposal received three readings by council.
“Everybody’s in favor of it, it seems like,” said Councilman James Seaman.
DGL conducted a field review on December 8 as a result of the city’s request to change the speed limit on 2.4 miles of road between Corduroy and Bayshore roads. The area is industrial in nature, and includes two cemeteries in the area, and three railroad crossings along the corridor.
The road was reconstructed with new asphalt last year as part of an upgrade to the existing deteriorating concrete pavement. The project included the rubblization of the existing concrete pavement followed by a new asphalt overlay, full-depth pavement replacement, mill and fill asphalt replacement, installation of underdrains along the edge of the pavement, roadside grading, storm sewer work, and driveway approach work. Pavement marking and signage were updated as part of the reconstruction project.
There are no roadside obstructions on the road that restrict lateral sight distance, notes the study. There are two signalized intersections and two unsignalized intersections along the road, which is relatively straight and level except for a few minor grade changes and gentle curves.
Three test runs in each direction were conducted on Jan. 3 of this year, according to the study. Test runs are made by driving as fast as is comfortably safe and not being impeded by other traffic.
Crash reports show there were six crashes on Otter Creek road between 2006-2009.
Speed checks by a radar gun were conducted at four locations along the road on Dec. 8. The 85th percentile speed was 42.9 mph. The Ohio Manual of Traffic Control Devices prescribes that the calculated speed be within 5 mph of the 85th percentile speed, according to the study, which went on to recommend approval for the city’s request to increase the speed limit to 45 mph.
Councilman Mike Sheehy said he was in the vicinity of Otter Creek Road while it was being reconstructed several months ago, and noted how smooth the roadway was after the project was completed. He did not think the proposal should receive three readings.
“I’m so pleased by the project,” he said, which was paid for with federal transportation stimulus funds. “It turned out beautifully. As I rode down the new pavement, I felt it needed to have a higher speed limit. We guessed that people were driving about 45 mph. Sure enough, the study turned out that it was 43. So people are driving at that speed, and ODOT has given its blessing. It’s been talked about in the community long enough. The mayor has indicated he is for it. I don’t think there’s been any objection to it. It’s a great new roadway. I think it’s safer at 45 than at 35. The sooner we put into effect, the better off we all are.”
Councilman Jerry Peach also said the proposal should go into effect sooner than later.
“I’m not aware of any reason to read this on three separate occasions,” he said. “If some new information appears between now and the regular meeting, we can modify that. But I’m satisfied that the background warrant study has been conducted appropriately and the legislation has been prepared in a form that is appropriate for our needs.”
Councilman Sandy Bihn said she would like to give residents in the area some time to review the proposal because some have complained in the past about the speed limit.
“I remember at the time this came up. Actually, I think it, in part, came up because of some comments I had received from some people in north Oregon and Harbor View, when they were actually complaining about the increased speed because of the conditions of the road,” said Bihn. “Personally, I would love the increase in the speed limit. I travel this all the time and would very much like the speed limit to be raised. But I think in fairness, I’ll call some people from north Oregon and the village and let them speak their peace just so we get a balanced approach to what we’re determining here. I think in terms of cars, there’s not much of a debate. But in terms of trucks, there are a considerable number of trucks that use this roadway. And some people are concerned about safety. Let them come in next Monday hopefully and say what they wish. But I think it’s appropriate that they be told.”
Council then forwarded the proposal to next Monday’s regular council meeting agenda.