Speeds limits have been lowered by 10 mph in two sections along U.S. Highway 2 in Monroe.

The Monroe City Council approved the revisions at the request of the Washington State Department of Transportation. The state agency had received a number of complaints regarding the safety of bicyclists and walkers in those areas.

“A few people have come in to speak about walking in that area and being unsafe,” said Councilmember Patsy Cudaback, who made the motion to approve the ordinance.

WSDOT conducted speed studies along each stretch, said Public Works director Brad Feilberg. The agency found lowering speed limits could be impactful through its investigation. 

One of the two targeted sections starts west of Roosevelt Road, heading east, and extends for less than a mile south of the Evergreen State Fairgrounds. The speed limit within those boundaries was 55 mph, and is now set at 45 mph.

The other begins near the junction of Cascade View Drive and runs for about half a mile before it ends just west of North Kelsey Street, according to council documents. The limit there was 45 mph, but is now 35 mph.

Nearly 100 collisions were recorded along both sections of the road in the last five years, according to council documents. People were injured in a third of them. One person died within the section that starts near the fairgrounds.

The City of Monroe is responsible for setting speed limits within city limits, including along non-limited access state highways, according to the ordinance. The city had to approve the suggestions made by WSDOT in order for the changes to take effect.

Monroe residents were the ones who originally proposed dropping the speed limits, according to council documents. City staff was on board.

Close calls are often experienced when walkers and bicyclists are crossing the road, according to council documents. Both pedestrians and people on bikes use the roadway frequently, but accomodating facilities are not consistent or well connected along the route.

Complaints increased after the ramps were constructed that lead from U.S. Highway 2 on or off State Route 522, according to council documents. Drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists have experienced more conflict in those sections following installment of the structure.

More than 40,000 vehicles passed through the city east of SR 522 in 2016, according to council documents. About half that amount was recorded west of 179th Avenue Southeast. About 3.4 percent is truck traffic.

The ordinance took effect May 9. Drivers of other types of vehicles could see a different impact from the speed limit revisions.

The council passed an ordinance the same night that allows the use of WATVs on city streets. The vehicles can only be driven on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, excluding State Route 522, so the section of the highway they can drive on has been extended.

Each WATV must have headlights, tail lamps, stop reflectors, turn signals, mirrors and a horn, among other equipment. Motorcycle helmets must be worn unless the vehicle has seatbelts and roll bars or an enclosed passenger compartment.

The ordinance also requires anyone operating a WATV to have a valid driver’s license and proof of liability insurance.