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Plan advances for 20 mph roads across Snohomish’s core

SNOHOMISH — The City Council last week approved a key step toward reducing speeds to 20 mph for much of town.
The approach is more complex than a one-and-done vote, though.
The city will be taking speed reductions on a case-by-case basis.
The mayor now has decision-making power in certain cases, depending on how many properties are affected.
If a street section has less than 100 properties alongside, the mayor decides. If it’s more than 100, it goes before the City Council.
Some requests to reduce speeds would use a petition if the city engineer sees a need for one.
If a petition is used, 60 percent of the property owners on a street would have to sign in favor before a speed limit could be reduced.
Property owners themselves can ask the city to reduce local speeds, too, under the procedure City Council approved last week.
City Hall’s overall plan aims for a uniform 20 mph zone for a large part of the city, including for Second Street, Avenue D, Avenue A, Fourth Street, Maple, Pine, Lincoln and part of Park Avenue. The boundaries for the lower speed limit would be approximately from First Street north to 13th Street, and from Avenue J to Mill Avenue.
Council members aren’t sure.
Some, such as Councilman Tom Merrill, want to be careful that reducing speeds on the main roads won’t encourage drivers to shift to speeding through residential streets outside the 20 mph boundary area.
Councilman Steve Dana doesn’t favor reducing speeds on the main roads that move traffic such as Maple Avenue or Second Street.
City administrator Steve Schuller said when it comes to regional traffic patterns, “nothing we do will influence traffic one bit.” People are cutting through town to avoid highways, Schuller said.
Making Snohomish 20 mph will tell drivers the city is special, he said, and not to speed through. He describes it as creating an “urban village.”
“It’s not speed, traffic or capacity, it’s a message,” Schuller said.
Councilwoman Donna Ray said she’s fully in favor. “I believe in the village concept, and want as many streets” in the plan, Ray said at the council meeting. “I think traffic won’t divert.”
Petitions for speed reductions to 20 mph can only be asked for city roads that are 30 mph or 25 mph today.
A map of the city’s own proposed reductions shows the 20 mph zone along Avenue D would end at 7th Street by Snohomish High School. For Second Street, it would run from Avenue F to a block east of Pine toward the city limits. The 20 mph zone on Maple Avenue would run from the river north to 10th Street.
An issue with the Zoom platform prevented phone-in callers from providing comments at the Aug. 7 meeting.




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