Homeowners push to reduce speed on several Whidbey Island roads

A car drives along Patmore Road on Central Whidbey. The county may lower the speed limit.  - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
A car drives along Patmore Road on Central Whidbey. The county may lower the speed limit.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

Two arterials on Central and South Whidbey may see soon significant speed limit reductions.

Last week, the Island County Commissioners gave traffic engineers the green light to conduct detailed speed studies on Patmore Road, located just a few miles southeast of Coupeville, and the eastern half of Classic Road, between Greenbank and Freeland.

Homeowners recently submitted separate but formal petitions requesting the commissioners agree to lower the existing speed limits on both roads from 50 mph to 35 mph for safety reasons.

“There is no way it should be 50 mph,” said Cynthia Ellison, concerning Classic Road. “There are just too many walkers, driveways; just too many close calls.”

The petition requests the reduction be applied on the .75-mile section of road between State Highway 525 and Resort Road.

Ellison lives on Resort Road, the intersecting and Eastern end of Classic Road. She worked on the petition signed by 18 people.

Ellison said she witnessed several close calls and worries someone will be hurt or killed.

“It’s just too dangerous.”

Gail Allen expressed similar sentiments about Patmore Road, which connects Highway 20 and Fort Casey Road. She’s lived on the tiny two-lane arterial street for years and questions the current speed limit.

“What’s the hurry,” Allen asked? “It’s not a freeway.”

Allen said the rural and hilly road is often traveled by heavy farm equipment. Many homeowners have horses, and the road goes past Rhododendron Park where there’s a practice field for Little League.

“50 mph is too fast.”

Others said they worry about occasional use as a detour route for accidents on Highway 20. There are hard-to-see driveways that some complain become nearly invisible at night.

The Patmore petition, signed by 36 residents, seeks the reduction along the entire two-mile road.

Speed limits on county roads are set by ordinance. A set process must be followed before the commissioners will make changes.

A petition showing community support is a first step. Subsequently, county traffic engineers study a road to see if reductions are warranted according to nationally-accepted engineering standards.

Public Works Director Bill Oakes said some speed and traffic data is collected on a semi regular basis for all county roads. Those reports suggest additional testing will likely justify a reduction on Patmore but probably not for the entire two-mile stretch, he said.

“I’m not sure the data will support that, but there may be some changes we can make.”

As for Classic Road, lowering the speed limit may be more difficult to justify as it’s straight with good sight distance. The county won’t know for sure until more detailed studies are performed.

Those tests probably won’t be completed until May or June. Results will dictate the department’s recommendation to the commissioners.


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