Speeds near the intersection of Hainesville Road and Washington Street may be reduced to 35 mph
LCDOT has determined that the current 40 mph speed limit — which was the standard before Washington was widened to four or five lanes between Hainesville Road and Lake Street and was kept in place after all the construction equipment cleared out last fall — should be reduced to 35 mph “from a point 1,300 feet east of Hainesville Road (to) a point 1,100 feet west of Hainesville Road.”
Bennecke added that the change down to 35 mph reflected, in part, traffic counts showing that Washington Street has added more than 1,000 vehicles per day immediately west of Lake Street since 2012. On top of that, the section of Washington between Cedar Lake and Hainesville roads, which was widened to three lanes in 2014, took on an additional 2,000 vehicles per day between 2012 and 2017.
The county also took into consideration a series of side streets in the Highland Lake area that form T-intersections with Washington, including South Circle Drive and Hickory and Lilac avenues. Bennecke said those streets fall within the 1,300-foot zone that would feature the 35 mph limit, so in theory, traffic would slow down for vehicles turning on and off Washington.
The county has statutory authority to set a speed limit on its roadways once an engineering study has been completed. Recommendations from LCDOT for a change have to be approved by the county board, and the revised Washington Street speed limit is not only on the Jan. 16 agenda but appears to be headed for perfunctory approval.
It’s interesting to note that, according to the LCDOT literature, “the general rule of thumb is that 85 percent of drivers will drive the speed at which they feel comfortable and safe, not necessarily at a speed of 5 mph over or under the speed limit. If the speed limit is raised or lowered without proper reasoning, the overall speed of traffic for those 85 percent of drivers is not likely to change.”