D.C. mayor says city will raise speed limit on two commuter routes

November 30, 2012


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D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced Friday that he will allow the District Department of Transportation to raise speed limits on two roadways well-known to commuters: Benning Road between Oklahoma and Kenilworth avenues, and D.C. 295.

These stretches are especially well-known to drivers who have received speed camera tickets.

The limit on Benning Road will be raised to 35 mph and on D.C. 295 to 50 mph. DDOT said in an announcement that raising the limit on D.C. 295 will make it consistent with the maximum speed from the Maryland border at Eastern Avenue to the junction of Interstate 295 with the Capital Beltway near the the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

In the statement, the mayor said: “These are roadways where we have previously studied the speed limits and can make changes immediately without significantly impacting safety. We want drivers to respect our traffic laws, and in return we have to have realistic expectations of them that match the physical environment, while continuing to protect pedestrians and cyclists.”

DDOT said the changes would take effect as soon as the bureaucratic process of emergency rule-making has been completed, and the road signs can be updated. That could be as early as next week. Meanwhile, the speed limit on Benning Road is 30 mph, and on D.C. 295, it varies between 45 and 50.

DDOT said it also is continuing its study of speed limits on other roadways citywide.

Some drivers, I feel sure, think that the 5 mph changes on those roadways are too small, while others will have their own candidates for zones where the “physical environment” would allow for higher speeds — the Southeast-Southwest Freeway perhaps?

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Robert Thomson · November 30, 2012