Skip to Content

ODOT cuts speed limit back to 55 mph on Hwys. 97, 20 stretches


ODOT Highway Division Deputy Director Paul Mather announced Tuesd ay that speed limits for two segments of U.S. Highway 97 and two segments of U.S. Highway 20 will be reduced to 55 mph from the 65 mph established earlier this year.

The changes will take effect when new speed limit signs are posted, expected in the next two to three weeks, officials said.

“Engineering analyses and review of crash data indicate that there are some areas where the speed limit should be lower,” Mather said. “We are implementing temporary speed zone orders that allow ODOT to reduce speeds in these areas as soon as signs can be posted.”

The four segments where ODOT is reducing the speed limit from 65 to 55 mph are:

U.S. 97 from Madras to Terrebonne (about 16.5 miles)

U.S. 97 at the La Pine south city limit (1 mile)

U.S. 20 from the Bend east city limit to Dodds Road (6 miles)

U.S. 20 from Vale to Cairo Junction (about 11.5 miles)

Speed limits increased on about 300 miles of interstate highway and about 1,200 miles of non-interstate highways March 1 , following a new state law.

ODOT traffic engineers performed initial engineering analyses and studied crash data on these roadways, reviewing both the characteristics of the road and how drivers reacted to driving at higher speeds.

Criteria included speed, traffic volume, crash history and density of driveways and public streets connecting to the highway. This initial analysis led to Tues day ‘s announcement to reduce speed on about 35 highway miles.

These temporary speed zone orders will last for one year. During that time, ODOT said it will refine the criteria; evaluate the performance of more highway segments; and discuss the analysis with the State Speed Zone Review Panel to determine if the changes should be made permanent.

“We will continue to analyze how drivers are reacting to traveling at higher speeds on highway segments with complex characteristics,” Mather said. “And when justified, we will recommend changing speeds on other segments.”

A recent accident killed a Madras mother and three young sons south of Madras, adding impetus to a citizen effort to urge a “safety corridor” or other steps to make the stretch of Highway 97 between Madras and Terrebonne more safe.

Several Oregon lawmakers had asked ODOT to review the safety of highways after speeds were increased in March, and after engineering analyses and a review of crash data were performed.

“I appreciate ODOT’s willingness to act on the concerns of Oregonians to make sure that our roads are safe for travelers,” said state Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, who said he had asked Mather to look into whether safety adjustments could be made.

“It’s imperative that we find the right balance between appropriate highway speeds and what is safe for drivers, and today’s actions by ODOT do just that,” Huffman said. “These speed reductions, while in very limited areas, will hopefully go a long way toward making our roads safer for travel.”

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content