Speed limit on High Drive returned to 30 mph; streets around parks may stay at 20 mph

<p><p>A higher speed limit is coming to High Drive, but the streets around several city parks could remain at 20 mph. </p></p><p><p>The Spokane City Council unanimously agreed to raise the speed limit on High Drive from 20 mph back to 30 mph, heeding the <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/nov/27/high-speeds-persisted-on-high-drive-despite-lower” target=”_blank”>recommendation of city officials who tracked cars speeding down High Drive despite the lower limit.</a></p></p><p><p>But the speed limits on streets around several city parks, including Manito and Shadle, may stay put at 20 mph.</p></p><p><p>The decision was forced by the conclusion of a two-year pilot program to limit the speed of motorists around city parks and along the popular multi-use trail on High Drive.</p></p><p><p>The program was proposed in 2020 by Councilwoman Lori Kinnear, who noted the throngs of people using parks following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p></p><p><p>On Monday, she sought her colleagues’ approval to leave the speed limit at 20 mph around a dozen city parks, but the plan hit a legal snag.</p></p><p><p>A traffic study may be required to lower limits on streets surrounding a park that does not meet the legal definition of a playground or recreational facility, City Attorney Michael Ormsby explained to the council on Monday.</p></p><p><p>As an example, Ormsby pointed to the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden in Manito Park, which abuts Bernard Street.</p></p><p><p>“Does Japanese Gardens fit the definition of a recreational or playground facility? If it (does) you don’t need to do a study, if it doesn’t, you do” to lower the speed limit, Ormsby said.</p></p><p><p>The council deferred a vote on the parks speed limit by one month to allow city staff time to review which parks would require a traffic study in order to have the surrounding speed limit lowered.</p></p><p><p>But the speed limit on High Drive, which had also been lowered to 20 mph, was reverted back to 30 mph.</p></p><p><p>A traffic study presented to the City Council last November showed that most drivers were ignoring the lower speed limit anyway; the average speed was above 30 mph.</p></p><p><p>City officials initially presented a 35 mph limit as an option, but the council opted to return to a 30 mph limit on High Drive from 21st Avenue all the way south until Manito Boulevard.</p></p><p><p>“Other stuff has to be done there to keep it safe – to be determined,” Kinnear said.</p></p>