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Idaho Legislature Limits Small Town Speed Traps
Bill to prohibit small towns from lowering highway speed limits clears the Idaho House and Senate.

Idaho Rep. Leon E. Smith
The Idaho legislature last week gave final passage to a bill stripping small towns of their ability to lower highway speed limits to raise revenue. The measure sailed through the state House by a vote of 56-10 and by a 26-9 vote in the state Senate. The measure was enrolled by the House speaker yesterday and will be sent to Governor Butch Otter (R) for his signature.

Lawmakers were furious at the misuse of speed limits in cities such as Bellevue where the mayor dropped the speed limit on Highway 95 to 25 MPH within the city limits. This five-lane highway is not near any schools and has few pedestrians. State Representative Leon E. Smith (R-Twin Falls) testified that a local Bellevue official admitted the city earns about a third of its revenue from ticketing on that road at the reduced limit.

Smith's legislation deletes existing provisions of the law granting localities permission to lower speed limits on major state roads in their jurisdiction and hands it to the Idaho Department of Transportation. The bill also requires limits be established based on sound traffic engineering safety standards instead of political choices.

"Any alteration of speed limits must be based upon a traffic engineering study approved by the department and completed according to department standards," House Bill 619 states. "The alteration of speed limits by local authorities shall be done in consultation with the department."

Smith argued that most small towns lacked the resources to conduct proper engineering surveys, but the few that do can request a different posted speed from that recommended by the state transportation department, but only with state approval. The measure gives aggrieved cities an opportunity to appeal a decision they may not like at a hearing generally scheduled within thirty days, but the state transportation board retains the final say in the matter.

"In the event of disagreement between the department and local authorities, the department traffic study shall be adopted, unless the local government traffic study is submitted to the Idaho transportation department board and the board adopts the local study in whole or in part."

A copy of the legislation is available in a 110k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 619 (Idaho Legislature, 3/23/2012)

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