LEVY DOLLARS AT WORK | We’re partnering with Washington State to reduce speed limits on state routes in Seattle & reach shared goals of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries

Many of the new speed limit signs on state routes in Seattle will be larger and more visible. Here is a new 30 MPH sign freshly made in our Sign Shop.

In partnership with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and with funding from the Levy to Move Seattle, yesterday we began lowering speed limits by 5 miles per hour on portions of state routes within Seattle! (See chart below for exact locations!) 

Safety is our number one priority and reducing speed limits is a nationally recognized tool for reducing crashes. Our partnership with WSDOT builds on ongoing work to achieve the City’s Vision Zero initiative and WSDOT’s Target Zero Highway Safety Plan to save lives. It also builds on our recently completed work to lower speeds to 25 MPH on most major streets managed by SDOT.  

“We know that we must continue to make our sidewalks and streets safe for everyone. The loss of lives – often our most vulnerable travelers – due to crashes and collisions on our streets is unacceptable,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Seattle has been a national leader in lowering speed limits throughout our city, and we are proud to work with WSDOT to roll out speed reductions on state routes in Seattle so all travelers are safe getting to where they need to go.”

Over 150 new speed limit signs were installed on Sunday, March 14!  

Last week, WSDOT approved lowering speed limits on portions of state routes which travel along surface-level streets in the city of Seattle. The first phase of changes include portions of State Route 523 (NE 145th St), State Route 522 (Lake City Way NE), State Route 513 (Sand Point Way NE, NE 45th St, and Montlake Blvd NE), and State Route 99 (Aurora Ave N, E Marginal Way, and W Marginal Way). With funding from the Levy to Move Seattle, we began replacing speed limit signs this past weekend and expects to finish by mid-April.  

State Route Location Previous Speed LimitNew Speed LimitNew Signs Installed
SR 99 | W Marginal Way S Holden St to 1st Ave bridge  40 mph 35 mph Yes 
SR 99 | E Marginal Way 1st Ave S to S Nevada St/Spokane St  45 mph 40 mph Yes 
SR 99 | Aurora Ave N N 85th St to N 109th St  35 mph 30 mph By mid-April  
SR 99 | Aurora Ave N  N 109th St to N 115th St  (shown for reference) 35 mph  By mid-April  
SR 99 | Aurora Ave N  N 115th St to N 145th St  40 mph 35 mph By mid-April  
SR 513 | Sand Point Way, NE 45th St, Montlake Blvd NE NE Pacific Pl to NE 65th St  35 mph 30 mph Yes 
SR 522 | Lake City Way NE NE 120th St to NE 130th St  30 mph 25 mph Yes 
SR 523 | N-NE 145th St 15th Ave NE to Lake City Way NE  35 mph 30 mph Yes 

Speed limit signs are being installed about every quarter mile to make sure people know what the safe traveling speed is and in some instances the signs will be larger to make them more visible. 

The frequency of speed limit signs alone can improve public safety, which is important because  enforcement disproportionately impacts Black people and other people of color. At SDOT, we are learning and listening to how our urban spaces disproportionately place Black people in harm’s way. 

“Addressing speed is the only way for everyone to get around safely,” said SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe. “As we design an equitable transportation network that serves all ages and abilities and encourage more people to walk and bike to their destinations, we have to prioritize safety and can make small changes to speed that save lives.”   

Map showing upcoming 5 MPH Speed Limit Reductions on State routes

Lowering speed limits has a negligible impact on how long it takes people to reach their destination and can actually reduce traffic congestion.

For example, it only takes 10-30 seconds longer to drive a mile at the newly posted speed limits compared to the previous speed limits. Meanwhile, about a quarter of the time we spend sitting in traffic is due to crashes which can be prevented with lower speed limits. The best thing people driving can do is to leave your house a few minutes early to reduce stress and the impulse to drive faster due to time constraints or unexpected traffic delays.   

These initial speed limit reductions on state routes in Seattle are a first step.  

SDOT and WSDOT will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the changes to help inform the plan for future phases of speed limit reductions in these and other locations.

Speed limit reductions are one of several strategies to help achieve Vision Zero goals. They open the door for additional design changes that increase safety and bring us closer to ending traffic deaths and serious injuries. We continue to redesign the physical layout of many major streets with Vision Zero traffic safety projects on Rainier Ave SLake City Way (SR 522)12th Ave S, and other locations. 

This year, we anticipate the State Legislature approving grant funding providing $1.5 million for planning and design along Aurora Ave N and a local match of $500,000 for a total of $2 million.  

This funding would allow us to would work with the community to better align Aurora with their vision of supporting a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation. The study is expected to start next year and would include extensive community engagement, right-of-way planning, traffic analysis, and design.  

Learn more about what were doing to support Seattle’s long-term Vision Zero initiative to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.  

The Levy to Move Seattle Logo, which reads: This project is funded in part of in full by the 2015 voter-approved 9-year $930 million Levy to Move Seattle. The Levy provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for our growing city. Learn more at www.seattle.gov/LevytoMoveSeattle. On the right, the Levy to Move Seattle logo has the words "The Levy to Move Seattle: Your tax dollars at work" and icons representing" Seattle streetcar, a truck a bus, a car, a bike, and a person walking.