Speed limits go up Tuesday

U.S. Highways 97 and 20 and state Highway 31 are affected

By Claire Withycombe / The Bulletin

Come Tuesday, speed limits in some areas of Oregon will be increasing.

It’s a change that will require about 275 new signs on Central Oregon highways, including U.S. Highway 97, U.S. Highway 20 and state Highway 31, according to Peter Murphy, an Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman.

As outlined by Oregon House Bill 3402 in last year’s legislative session, speed limits will increase to 65 mph in some areas and to 70 mph for some other major highways in Eastern Oregon. The new speed limits in those areas for trucks will be 60 mph and 65 mph, respectively.

Many of the signs have already been installed in Central Oregon facing the roadway and will be turned to face motorists when the higher limits go into effect Tuesday, Murphy said.

The Legislature set aside $735,000 to cover the costs of changing the signs, which spans hundreds of rural highway miles.

The cost of installing an individual sign varies based on where the sign is being installed, Murphy said — since the signs are manufactured in Bend, the cost of installation includes the varying travel time between Bend and other places that the signs are going in. Some of the old signs and posts will be recycled or reused, depending upon what condition they’re in.

In some areas, the change means that the highways also had to be restriped to remove passing lanes that did not allow enough room for vehicles passing each other at the higher speeds, according to Murphy.

The change in speed limits will also mean a change in the enforcement standard on certain state highways, according to Oregon State Police Lt. Bill Fugate. Rather than the standard of the violation of the basic rule — which allows troopers to use their discretion in issuing speeding tickets, especially when weather, traffic or road conditions are in play — the standard will be the numeric speed limit.

­—Reporter: 541-383-0376,

cwithycombe@bendbulletin.com

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