Traffic

There’s a reason the speed limit is 40 mph on Tacoma’s Schuster ‘speedway’

With so many people speeding on Schuster Parkway, can’t we just raise the speed limit?

Tacoma traffic engineers say it's unlikely they will raise the speed limit of Schuster Parkway. It is already the highest speed limit on any roadway under the city’s jurisdiction.
Up Next
Tacoma traffic engineers say it's unlikely they will raise the speed limit of Schuster Parkway. It is already the highest speed limit on any roadway under the city’s jurisdiction.

Question: Tacoma’s Schuster Parkway is more like a speedway. I’d suggest bumping the speed limit up to 50 mph if not for the sidewalk that abuts the road and the danger to bicyclists. What’s the city’s take on this? — J.N., Tacoma

Answer: The city’s take, J.N., is similar to your own.

Before we expound, here’s a bit more from J.N.’s missive to Traffic Q&A headquarters:

“Traffic consistently moves at 50 mph or greater along the parkway that has a posted speed of 40 mph. I drive this stretch frequently and have not seen any enforcement of the speed limit in several years.”

For the uninitiated, Schuster Parkway is a four-lane, divided road that runs between downtown T-town and the Old Town area along the western shore of Commencement Bay. J.N. is right in that traffic there can move along at a clip that exceeds the posted 40 mph limit.

We put J.N.’s concerns to Stacy Ellifritt, who speaks for the city’s Public Works Department, and Loretta Cool, who speaks for the Police Department.

Ellifritt, in turn, sought the counsel of the traffic engineering unit of Public Works, which sent along a written response.

The engineers noted that 40 mph is “the highest speed limit on any roadway under the city’s jurisdiction.”

“Higher speeds decrease safety and can make more vulnerable users, such as those walking and biking, uncomfortable,” the response continues. “Because this corridor is one of the few ways to travel between the Ruston Way waterfront and the downtown, the city’s long-range plans recognize that this corridor does more than complete an important transportation link — it also has the opportunity to provide a unique recreational pathway.”

The engineers went on to gently chide drivers who think zooming along at 50 mph or higher makes up a lot of time.

“It is also worth noting that, even under perfect conditions, a speed limit increase from 40 to 50 would only save approximately 20 seconds for a driver,” the response states. “With these factors in mind, increasing the speed limit would be inconsistent with the desired goals for the corridor.”

So there’s that.

As for the speeding, Cool referred us to the courts for the number of citations issued annually on that stretch of Schuster, but, dear readers, we ran out of time to do so.

She did tell us that the department’s traffic division chooses areas of the city to crack down on speeding based on “citizen complaints of speeding, officer knowledge of areas where they observe lots of violations, and collision data — collision result of speed.”

Might want to make a call to the Police Department, J.N.

Follow-up file: We recently wrote about the speed-monitoring camera on East Bay Street being replaced with a better model.

That column prompted Susan L. to drop us a line.

“What is the speed limit between the 25 mph sign located near the traffic cam on Bay Street and the 25 mph sign at East 26th Street?” she asked.

According to Cool, it’s 35 mph.

Adam Lynn is a local news editor and writes the popular Traffic Q&A column for The News Tribune. He has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years, most of it in Washington state.


  Comments