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Orange flag on a 45 mph speed limit sign.
An orange flag alerts drivers to a new speed limit change.

King County is proposing to reduce the speed limit on a 1,250-foot segment of Patriot Way SE near Renton. After receiving public comments about speeding within the Briarwood Elementary School zone on Patriot Way SE, the County conducted a speed limit evaluation to analyze the issue. Based on the findings of the evaluation, the County concluded that a speed limit reduction is justified from 30 to 25 mph between SE 128th Street and SE 132nd Street. If the speed reduction is approved, the speed limit change is anticipated to take place in the late summer/early fall of 2018.

Public comment is being accepted on this speed limit reduction proposal through September 5, 2018. If you have questions or feedback, please contact Community Relations Planner Brent Champaco at 206-477-9094 or brent.champaco@kingcounty.gov or send a letter to:

Brent Champaco
King County Department of Transportation
201 South Jackson Street
MS: KSC-TR-0824
Seattle, WA 98104-3856

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Background

For the first 1,250 feet of Patriot Way SE, south of SE 128th Street, the posted speed limit is 30 mph. The speed limit south of this segment and all residential streets within the neighborhood are posted at 25 mph. The 30 mph zone is indicated in the map below by the red line.

Patriot Way SE is a collector arterial with 12 driveways within the 1,250-foot segment being considered for speed limit revision. Between 2013 and 2017, there were four reported collisions within the study limits, all speed-related, which is a concern with Briarwood Elementary School located immediately south of this segment.

On the basis of the engineering data obtained, removing this variation in speed limit will create safer conditions and consistent driver expectations. As such, the proposal is for the first 1,250 feet of Patriot Way SE, south of SE 128th Street, to be changed from 30 mph to 25 mph to match the speed limit on the rest of Patriot Way SE.

Recently approved speed limit changes

In 2018, the King County Council approved the following speed limit changes on the basis of engineering data, evaluation criteria and public comment:

  • NE Novelty Hill Road from Eastridge Drive NE to West Snoqualmie Valley Road
    On May 9, 2018, the Director of the Department of Transportation approved lowering the posted speed limit to 30 mph trucks and 35 mph for all other vehicles. Work to complete the signing changes will be completed by the end of summer 2018.

  • SE May Valley Road from State Route 900 to Issaquah Hobart Road SE
    On April 16, 2018, the Director of the Dept. of Transportation approved lowering the posted speed limit from 40 to 35 mph. Signing revisions, including orange markers on the signs to notify motorists of the speed limit change, were made on May 7, 2018.

What is King County’s procedure for evaluating speed limits?

The King County speed limit evaluation procedure was developed using criteria based on the Washington State Model Traffic Ordinance (46.04; WAC 303-308), the King County Code and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD is a Federal Highway Administration document, which has been adopted by most public agencies and provides guidelines for traffic control devices and pavement markings.

In 2018, the King County Council adopted an update which, in Section 46.04.040 (RCW 46.61.415-1 amended) empowers the Director of the Department of Transportation to “revise speed limits on all streets and roads within this county as authorized by state law; provided, that such speed limit revisions shall not exceed ten miles per hour; provided further, that any determination of the property numerical value for a speed zone will be based upon the following engineering and traffic investigation factors:

  1. Road surface characteristics, shoulder conditions, grade, alignment and sight distance;
  2. The eighty five percentile speed and pace speed;
  3. Roadside development and culture, and roadside friction;
  4. Safe speed for curves or hazardous locations within the zone;
  5. Parking practices and pedestrian activity;
  6. Reported accident experience for a recent twelve month period.

Speed limits on segments less than 1.0 mile in length may be changed administratively if the posted speed limit of the road segment varies from posted speed limits at each end of the road segment. These situations commonly occur where a city has annexed a portion of the roadway and changed the speed limit within city limits, leaving a short segment in unincorporated King County with a higher speed limit. In such cases, the County may administratively make a speed limit change of no more than 5 mph. In these cases, no detailed review is conducted.

Once a preliminary review of the road segment is completed, public comment is solicited for a period of two to three weeks, except when an administrative change is implemented for a short segment as discussed in the paragraph above. Public comments are reviewed by the County Traffic Engineer and County Road Engineer prior to recommending the change to both Director of the Department of Transportation for approval and transmittal King County Council to enact into law.