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Some seek slower speeds on Barrows Road

by: Jaime Valdez Traffic flows past Big Al’s sports bar and bowling alley Tuesday. Plans are in the works to lower the speed limit on Barrows Road from 40 to 35 mph.

According to some citizens and frequent travelers of Barrows Road, the road has outgrown its 40-mile-per-hour speed limit.

The road, which serves as the dividing line between Tigard and Beaverton, has gone through speed limit reductions in the past. With new development sprouting up, some people are saying the speed needs to be reduced again, claiming that a 35 mph limit would be safer and create less noise in the growing area.

Speed surveys conducted by the city of Beaverton last month between the eastern and western Scholls Ferry access points of Barrows Road found that 50 percent of drivers are driving above the speed limit.

Both the cities of Tigard and Beaverton have approved the requested reduction, which will now go on to the Oregon Department of Transportation for approval. There, more studies will be conducted in order to determine the appropriate speed for the road.

This process is expected to take up to six months.

What is the ideal speed?

Matt Grady of Gramor Development was one of the first to request a speed reduction. Gramor's project, Progress Ridge, features large tenants like Cinetopia movie theater and New Seasons supermarket that will likely draw many more cars and pedestrians to the area. Grady said that between ongoing development and two new traffic signals, 40 miles per hour is simply too high for Barrows Road.

'The city has designated both Southwest Barrows Road and Southwest Horizon Boulevard as 'major pedestrian routes,'' Grady wrote in a letter to Beaverton's traffic commission. 'The goal is to create a walkable, safe mix of uses where people can get out of their cars.'

However, some say a 5-mile reduction is not enough, instead supporting a 10 or 15 mph reduction.

'Current activity levels will only increase, and any speed limit in excess of 25 miles per hour is not conducive to the area's needs,' said neighbor Vaughna Cochenour, in a letter to the Beaverton Traffic Commission on behalf of the entire Summit At Progress Ridge residential community.

But not everyone shares that sentiment.

'A 25 mph speed limit along Barrows is simply ridiculous,' said Tigard resident Glen Gallamore in an email to the traffic commission. 'Common sense alone dictates that the current series of stop lights along the stretch of Barrows Road between Walnut and Menlor will easily take care of any speed issues.

'Thirty-five miles per hour works.'

Still others are suggesting posting different speed limits on portions of the road, depending on the density of that particular stretch.

'It would be very unlikely that any reduction in excess of 5 mph would be considered by ODOT without clear evidence of safety problems,' said Beaverton Economic and Capital Development Director Gary Brentano. 'While there have been a few accidents in the past several years, they have been the result of impaired drivers and excessive speeds.'