Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bellevue speed-limit changes in effect

Motorists can travel faster north and south of town

Express Staff Writer

A new sign on the north end of Bellevue advises motorists of the new 35-mph speed limit in an area where the limit was previously 25 mph. Photo by Willy Cook

Speed limits were raised last week on state Highway 75 at the north and south ends of Bellevue.
    The new limits followed a recent change to state law that gives the Idaho Transportation Department jurisdiction over highway speed limits within city limits. ITD already set speed limits for rural sections of all state, U.S. and Interstate routes.
    The Bellevue City Council has for 15 years controlled speed limits in the city, thanks to a law sponsored by Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, that gave municipalities control of speed limits on state highways within cities.
    That law, known as “Wendy’s Law,” was repealed in March, due in part to pressure from Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, a member of the House Transportation and Defense Committee. Smith claimed in testimony that Bellevue in particular profited from writing speeding tickets due to low speed limits.    
    However, Bellevue Planning and Zoning Director Craig Eckles said in an interview last spring that speeding citations account for only a small part of city revenue.    
    The most significant changes will take place at the north and south ends of the city. The 35-mph zone at the south end will extend north to near the access points of U.S. Bank and Sun Valley Bronze. At the north end, the 35-mph zone begins south of Kirtley Road, near the north entrance to Atkinsons’ Market.
    The 45-mph and 55-mph speed zones will also see adjustments at both ends of town.
    The speed limit is based on an engineering traffic study conducted by ITD in June. The findings and speed-limit recommendations were presented to the Bellevue mayor and City Council in August.

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