Speed limit on Highway 20 through Coupeville to drop
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
October 14, 2011 · Updated 2:55 PM
Slower speeds are in store for motorists traveling on the highway through Coupeville.
The Coupeville Town Council Tuesday night unanimously approved an ordinance lowering the speed limit on Highway 20 through Coupeville to 45 mph, which is down from the current 55 mph.
Mayor Nancy Conard said there have been several accidents at the intersection with Highway 20 and Broadway that prompted concerns from residents and she started talking with officials from the Washington State Department of Transportation.
She didn’t have a date when the speed limit change would take effect. She forwarded a copy of the new ordinance to the DOT, who will change the signs.
The 45 mph speed limit will start midway between the Sherman Road and Broadway intersections and go until halfway between the Main Street and Terry Road intersections.
Council member Molly Hughes questioned why the new speed limit won’t include Sherman and Terry roads. Conard said the town can’t petition for speed limit changes outside its jurisdiction.
Leaders in Coupeville have been trying for years to get the Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit. In prior talks, state officials have been firm in maintaining the 55 mph speed limit through Coupeville.
Coupeville resident Al Bowers questioned whether the lower limit will become a speed trap and turn out to be a detriment to the town. He also mentioned that there aren’t enough officers to enforce the new limit.
“We don’t have enough patrolmen writing tickets to enforce it,” Bowers said.
Jack Tingstad was concerned about the approach into Coupeville from the south. The 45 mph speed limit doesn’t make sense considering the speed limit increases from 50 mph to 55 mph on a short stretch of Highway 20 before reaching the proposed 45 mph speed limit.
Conard said the short 55 mph zone near Terry Road would go down to 50 mph.
While the intersection of Highway 20 and Broadway saw numerous accidents recently, Conard noted that they weren’t speed related. The most recent one was due to driver inattention. She wants the town to work with the state to make improvements to the intersection, such as installing rumble strips or lighted signs to warn motorists.
Council members Ann Danaher, Bob Clay, Dianne Binder and Molly Hughes supported the measure.
Clay said he would like to see the speed limit on Whidbey Island highways drop to 40 miles per hour. He supported the 45 mph speed limit through Coupeville because of the highway’s proximity to the elementary school.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.