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The Madera Tribune

Dropping certain speed limits is wise

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webmaster | 10/25/13

The Madera County Board of Supervisors is wise to consider lowering speed limits from 55 to 35 mph on 84 road segments in certain residential developments of the county.

These areas include Madera Acres, Highland and Country Club subdivisions. The push to lower the speed limits resulted from the death of Country Club resident Shiu Fan Wong earlier this year when she was taking a walk. She was struck by a pickup at the intersection of two residential streets.

In Madera, such neighborhoods would have been posted at 35 miles an hour on arterials and 25 mph on side streets.

Nobody knows how fast the pickup that hit Wong, 71, was going, and the driver was not charged by the California Highway Patrol, which investigated the accident. But if somebody drives 55 miles an hour in a residential neighborhood in the county regularly, it usually results in angry calls by residents to either the road department or the Board of Supervisors.

Board Chair Max Rodriguez said Tuesday that 75 percent of calls to his office were to complain about high speed limits on country roads.

Why haven’t the speed limits been lowered before this?

State law requires studies before speed limit postings can be changed — either up or down.

A three-month study found the 55-mph limit was indeed too high — even though some 80 percent of the drivers travel at 35 miles per hour.

A portion of Avenue 12 through the Ranchos, once posted at 35 mph, was raised a couple of years ago, but only after a study made it clear people actually went faster, and the speed limit as a result was raised to 45 mph. It turned out the 35-mph limit had been posted illegally originally because no study had been done.

The speed-limit change will be an appropriate memorial for Shiu Fan Wong.


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