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Speed limit on SR-522 through Kenmore and Lake Forest Park reduced to 40 mph

The speed limit on SR-522 has been reduced from 45 to 40 mph. - Matt Phelps, Kenmore Reporter
The speed limit on SR-522 has been reduced from 45 to 40 mph.
— image credit: Matt Phelps, Kenmore Reporter

Many things have changed during the past few years through Kenmore and Lake Forest Park around State Route 522. Everything from population growth to tolls on the 520 bridge have increased traffic volumes along the busy arterial. Now, SR-522 will change too.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) took action on Monday by lowering the speed limit from 45 to 40 mph. Crews were out replacing signs, which will be adorned with orange flags to alert drivers of the change.

"It better matches the condition of the roadway," said WSDOT spokesman Bart Treece. "We do speed limit reviews of roadways routinely and it more accurately reflects the conditions."

One of the biggest reasons for the change is the higher volumes of traffic on the road, preventing drivers from going a high rate of speed. Studies on traffic volume and average speed of cars on the road, along with requests from each city, has moved the changes forward.

The Kenmore City Council voted to reduce the speed limit last month. But since the road is a state highway, it had to have state approval.

"We have been asking them to for some time now," said Kenmore Mayor David Baker. "Some of us on the council have been trying to do this since 2004."

But some on the Kenmore City Council would have liked to see the speed reduced even more.

"The speed limit through Bothell and Shoreline on SR-522 is 35 miles per hour," said Baker. "That is the speed that I would have liked to see, but this is a start."

Baker said that for the council it is a matter of safety for Kenmore residents. Just last month a woman was trying to exit from a dental office on SR-522 in the 5700 block and was struck by a Metro bus. The woman had to be airlifted to Harborview Medical Center because it occurred at rush hour and the helicopter ride was the only way to get her to the hospital in a timely fashion.

But WSDOT officials cautioned that the road is not dangerous.

"We always look at collisions," said Mark Leth with the WSDOT. "It is right in range for the three-year average for a higher-volume arterial like this."

And while 40 is higher than the speed limits in Shoreline and Bothell, the stretch through Kenmore is a lot different with fewer stop lights than in Bothell and almost all straight and flat.

"It doesn't travel the same," said Leth. "At 40 miles per hour it is closer in speed but they travel differently."

Leth said that there has been an increase in traffic on SR-522 since tolling began on the 520 bridge last year but that the study looked at traffic volume increases a lot further back when coming to the conclusion to lower the speed limit.

"There has been quite a bit of development in that area," said Leth.

But SR-522 is not the only road with a speed decrease. The main thoroughfare in Kenmore of 80th Avenue Northeast, which runs north from Bothell Way, will also see a speed limit reduction from 40 to 35 mph. Those new speed limit signs will be placed later this month or in November.

"In recent years, we have seen much additional residential construction, children and increased traffic on 80th and safety has been a big concern," said Kenmore Councilman Allan Van Ness in a comment on a local Facebook page.

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