Bill would make it easier for cities to change speed limits

SEATTLE -- A new bill being discussed in the state legislature would make it easier for cities to change speed limits on their streets.

As it stands, cities have to jump through hoops and spend money on engineering studies before they can change speed limits on non-arterial roads.

At Seattle Pacific University, students say they have too many close calls with drivers not paying attention or going too fast on roads near campus.

"I mean, there have been 10 or 20 instances where we've almost gotten hit. We're always like, 'Go, don't go," said student Hailey Larson.

Many of the drivers who speed by are actually obeying the posted speed limit, but the city can't lower the limit to make the street safer without spending money on an engineering study.

Sen. Andy Billig wants to change that.

"And this bill would just say, if the city decides that they want to take the steps to make the streets safer by changing speed limits, then they can do that without the engineering study," he said.

Under the new proposal, cities could lower speed limits on their streets, but not below 20 miles per hour. State highway speed limits could be changed to 60 miles per hour, but no higher and only with the Secretary of Transportation's approval.

"It just makes it easy for cities to do what they need to do to make their communities safer," Billig said.

Some worry the new law would create the opportunity for speed traps, but Billig doesn't see that happening.

"Well, I don't think so," he said. "I think this will be used in very specific areas to make communities safer and healthier. And you know cities can do that right now if they wanted to."