Hillsboro reduces speed limits on 67th Avenue
Hillsboro recently implemented temporary speed limit changes along Southeast 67th Avenue, one of several roads in South Hillsboro where road uses are changing as the area transforms from rural to suburban.
Speed reductions were identified in Hillsboro's Transportation Safety Action Plan (TSAP) as a strategy for reducing serious injury and fatal crashes, specifically those caused by rear-end crashes.
Hillsboro has set a goal of having no serious injuries or fatalities related to transportation by 2035, and speed zone changes may be a part of the city's strategy to reach that goal as it updates its TSAP, which was first adopted in 2017.
Hillsboro expects to officially begin the process to update the TSAP in 2021.
On Dec. 17, the city reduced the speed limit along 67th Avenue between the city's boundary near Southeast McInnis Street and Southeast Blanton Street (a stretch flanked by Rosedale Elementary School) from 45 mph to 35 mph.
Additionally, the city reduced the speed limit along 67th Avenue from Blanton Street to south of Highway 8, also known as Tualatin Valley Highway, from 45 mph to 25 mph.
"The speed limit adjustments will support a roadway speed that matches the changing South Hillsboro neighborhood and recent street improvements," a Dec. 9 statement from the Hillsboro city government announcing the changes read in part.
"67th Avenue has changed from a narrow farm road with ditches to a suburban street with bike lanes, on street parking, and sidewalks," said Hillsboro public works officials Tina Bailey and Doug Gresham in an email.
The road was formerly managed by Washington County, but it was annexed into Hillsboro city limits as developments began in South Hillsboro, where 20,000 new residents are expected to be added to the city over the next 20 years.
Hillsboro has requested that the Oregon Department of Transportation make the recent temporary speed limit changes along 67th Avenue permanent, following a speed zone investigation. ODOT is the only entity that can legally establish a permanent speed zone change on Oregon roadways.
The other two roadways where Hillsboro officials have requested ODOT conduct speed zone investigations are Blanton Street and Northeast Hidden Creek Drive, near the new Hidden Creek Community Center.
Since 2016, nine speed zone orders within Hillsboro have been approved by ODOT, including those initiated by the city along Northeast 53rd Avenue between East Main Street and Northeast Elam Young Parkway and Northeast Century Boulevard between Northeast Cornell Road and Butler Street. Along both of those roads, the speed limit was reduced from 40 mph to 35 mph.
In addition to speed limit reductions, the TSAP identifies strategies such as Hillsboro's Safe Routes to School Program, constructing more bike lanes and sidewalks, placing speed feedback signs throughout the city, and installing more rapid flashing beacons at crosswalks.
Hillsboro recently added about 2 miles of bike lanes on Southeast Alexander Street, from Southeast 56th Court to 67th Avenue, and on Northeast Aloclek Street, from Northeast Cornell Road to Evergreen Parkway. It also widened bike lanes along Northeast Century Boulevard from Cornell Road to Evergreen Parkway.
Although most of the recent serious injury and fatal crashes in Hillsboro have occurred on roads currently managed by the state or Washington County, such as Highway 8, city officials say the TSAP lays the groundwork to reach its goal of zero serious injury and fatal crashes.
"The TSAP creates a solid foundation of strategies to lower the risks of serious or fatal accidents," a city spokesperson noted in an email. "The city plans to continue to update the TSAP to take advantage of emerging technology, recent safety research, and changes in driving habits to make informed decisions and keep our roads safe."
During the last four years for which data is available, there's no clear trend in fatal injury and nonfatal injury crashes in Hillsboro.
There were 858, 902, 854 and 808 nonfatal injury crashes in Hillsboro in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the last year for which ODOT data is available, respectively. Most of those crashes occurred on city streets.
In 2018, the city saw a spike in fatal crashes, with eight people dying in traffic-related incidents. Five of those crashes were on city streets. Before that, there were four, two and zero fatal crashes in Hillsboro in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Reports from law enforcement agencies suggest that the number of fatal crashes in Hillsboro in 2019 was similar to that of 2018.
There were three fatal crashes in Hillsboro this November alone, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Each crash was on a road managed by either the state or the county.
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