The dreaded 85% rule strikes again:
Princeton residents spoke sharply against a Caltrans proposal to raise the speed limit on Highway 45 through the town at a meeting on Thursday.Representatives from Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol, along with Colusa County authorities, staged the meeting at Princeton High School’s cafeteria to explain the proposal to raise the speed limit from 35 to 40 mph.
Many residents at the meeting were not persuaded. They said the increase would only encourage travelers to speed even more through their community. Residents said the stretch of road in question has blind left turns, unprotected pedestrian crossing and no sidewalks, and and they said they’ve seen people driving up to 80 mph through the area.
One reason for the speeding is that CHP rarely patrols the highway. The result is a downward spiral: lack of enforcement leads to speeding, whereupon the CHP just raises the speed limit:
Caltrans representative Don Rushton said, a speed limit set too low causes frustration, road rage and other unreasonable driving conditions. “Arbitrarily low limits become speed traps,” he said. That comment drew a laugh from many in the crowd, who said the CHP rarely enforces the speed limit in the area. CHP Lt. Etic Walker, Williams area commander, said that since the economic downturn, the CHP’s office has been sorely understaffed.
Caltrans will also be raising the speed limit through Willits:
Caltrans is planning to raise the speed limits on Highway 20 by 5 miles per hour in the stretch immediately approaching the city of Willits from Fort Bragg, as a result of regularly mandated engineering and traffic surveys. The speeds will be raised from 30 to 35 mph, from 40 to 45 mph, and from 50 to 55 mph between post markers 32.5 and 33.0, a zone which includes three local road intersections and one route to Blosser Lane Elementary School.
Caltrans officials also met with Willits city officials including Chief of Police Gerardo Gonzalez, who expressed their concerns about maintaining adequate safety measures on the 20, particularly to protect pedestrians and bicyclists who may be crossing at the Blosser Lane intersection.
“I think locals tend to avoid that route,” said Gonzalez, “you’re not seeing kids walk there the way they used to.
Pedestrian accommodation is needed. But in order to secure Caltrans approval there needs to be sufficient pedestrian traffic. Again, it is a downward spiral — higher speeds means fewer pedestrians:
Hill said the survey did not demonstrate enough pedestrian volume to consider greater pedestrian safety measures such as a “pedestrian refuge,”