Pedestrians cross a street in downtown Bend, Oregon, on Friday, March 17, 2017. Growth, development and changing traffic patterns have prompted city officials to reduce speed limits on several key arteries around the city. 

Pedestrians cross a street in downtown Bend, Oregon, on Friday, March 17, 2017. Growth, development and changing traffic patterns have prompted city officials to reduce speed limits on several key arteries around the city. 

Bradley W. Parks/OPB

Long before it was identified by the city of Bend for an $18 million makeover, Reed Market Road was an un-annexed rural road.

Today, it’s an arterial bike lane leading to a park, a senior center and now – between 15th and 27th streets – the site of speed limit reductions.

“It’s [due to] a combination of either citizen requests or city staff responding to changes in traffic and development within these corridors,” said David Abbas, the city’s streets and operations director.

Many of the requests were made last summer.

The city is lowering speed limits in four areas by the end of the month. More broadly, it’s a testament to the city’s effort to adjust to its own growth and development.

Speed limits at 2nd Street between Wilson Avenue and the northbound Parkway ramp will drop from 35 mph to 30 mph. Colorado Avenue from the northbound Parkway ramp to Industrial Way will drop from 35 mph to 25 mph. Arizona Avenue from Industrial Way to Colorado Avenue will go from 35 mph to 25 mph, and a section of Reed Market Road will drop from 40 mph to 35 mph.

Orange warning flags will be placed on existing speed limit signs weeks ahead of the replacements to call attention to the changes.

Economists say Deschutes County is not only outpacing other Oregon cities in economic growth, but it’s seeing some of the biggest gains nationwide.

As part of that, says Abbas, Colorado and Arizona Avenues are now the site of hotels and businesses such as a Market of Choice grocery store.  

“So it’s changes in uses in the area from what was there in the past,” Abbas said. “Where there’s a Market of Choice, there wasn’t really anything for some time; it was kind of a vacant lot.”

In Portland, city councilors recently reduced speeds in residential zones from 25 mph to 20 mph in an effort to reduce traffic-related accidents and deaths. In Bend, Abbas says the real driving force was a desire to be “proactive” about changes in the city.

After the city puts in a request with the Oregon Department of Transportation, ODOT surveys the corridor and decides whether speed reductions are warranted.

Speed limits are determined based on traffic studies that look at factors such as road characteristics and adjacent land use.