S.E. Columbia Way speed limit raised from 25 to 30

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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It won’t be the Autobahn, but drivers on Southeast Columbia Way can now press down ever so slightly more on the gas pedal.

The speed limit on the Vancouver street, from Columbia House Boulevard east to Marine Park Way -- a straight stretch in a nonresidential area -- has been bumped from 25 mph to 30 mph, a move that reflects how fast people really drive.

It’s a rare day traffic engineers raise a speed limit, but in this case, it was an easy call, Vancouver Traffic Engineer Ali Eghtedari said.

“This road was brought to my attention by our staff that they felt … that no one really does 25 mph,” Eghtedari wrote in an email Tuesday. “So we went ahead and collected speed data for both directions, and sure enough, the 85 percentile (of speed) was around 37.8 mph.”

Until last week, when the Vancouver City Council approved the increase, Southeast Columbia Way was one of just two arterial streets that had a speed limit of 25 mph, the other being Fort Vancouver Way near Clark College, because of the heavy traffic there, Eghtedari said.

Though many people were going above 35 mph according to the city’s survey, Eghtedari said he chose a speed of 30 mph because the route features many slow-moving vehicles and train crossings.

“Consequently my decision was to go with the conservative side of the equation,” he wrote.

The speed limit on Columbia Way west of Columbia House Boulevard is also 30 mph.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.