West Linn residents near high school wonder: Is speeding ' A ' cause for concern?
It didn't take long after Dylan Pakes moved to a neighborhood near West A Street, in January 2016, before he noticed a problem.
The posted speed limit on the busy thoroughfare, which leads to West Linn High School, was just 25 miles per hour. Yet again and again, Pakes said he saw cars and even school buses whizzing by at speeds as high as 60 miles per hour.
"(It was) especially in the morning, lunch time and mid-afternoon hours," Pakes said. "I would call the police regularly asking for more patrols and didn't see a change, or patrols happening."
In November 2016, Pakes decided to take things into his own hands and borrowed a radar gun from the West Linn Police Department. For three days, he sat outside his home and measured the speeds of drivers passing by — often finding that drivers were indeed going at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.
That same month, he also attended meetings of the Bolton Neighborhood Association, the West Linn Transportation Advisory Board and the Traffic Safety Committee. The common theme, however, was that there simply wasn't much that could be done.
"At all the meetings I received some great responses with different options for change tossed out, but then nothing," Pakes said. "Speed bumps have been shot down in every conversation because of safety concerns about the fire trucks coming through ... but other cities have speed bumps that do not impact fire trucks and first responders."
Police, meanwhile, told him that in the absence of a traffic change like a stop sign, the problem would likely continue — and that the department simply doesn't have enough patrols to devote to the issue. Pakes was left wondering where to turn.
"I think it is irresponsible of the city to recommend that if you are concerned about speed in your neighborhood, then to check out a speed gun and monitor it. I did as they asked, and then nothing," Pakes said. "Things are only going to get worse with the new waterfront developments down the street, and some sort of change needs to happen now."
In response to Pakes' concerns, West Linn Police did perform a directed patrol along West A Street. Lieutenant Mike Stradley and Sergeant Mike Francis patrolled for about two hours, according to Francis, and stopped between five and seven vehicles during that time.
"I think I made three stops in an hour-and-a-half, with a high speed of 37 miles per hour," Francis said. "All others were under 10-over (the speed limit)."
Francis said the area has long been known for having a speeding issue, but that it is difficult for police to control.
"It's been a speeding issue since probably 1986 when I went to high school there," Francis said. "I'm not saying there's not an issue there, there probably is. ... But the simple fact of the matter is if we go out and dedicate time to various areas — Dollar Street, Sunset, Cedaroak, Hidden Springs — it's great if it's not busy, but high traffic time is when we get (other calls).
"We try to be responsive to everyone in the city with traffic issues, and I can rattle off six different locations."
Francis added that the department's traffic officer has been out on paternity leave, and that his return would allow for more directed patrols. In the meantime, he urged drivers to take responsibility and follow posted speed limits.
"A lot can be done — people can modify their behavior in real life, know they're driving in a '25' and slow down," Francis said. "People should take responsibility for their actions. If not, we can issue citations to everyone — including the people who live in the neighborhood who speed."
West Linn Public Works Director Lance Calvert said that the department received an inquiry in December asking for a staff work group to look at the issue. That inquiry, however, was later withdrawn and no further work has been done.
"If someone wants to have the city review it, they can contact Public Works to get on the work group agenda," Calvert said.