Speed limits are dropping from 45 mph to 40 mph along Pacific Highway South in Kent. The change begins Oct. 14. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

Speed limits are dropping from 45 mph to 40 mph along Pacific Highway South in Kent. The change begins Oct. 14. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

Speed limit to drop to 40 mph in Kent on Pacific Highway South

Effort to improve safety along State Route 99 where current speed limit is 45 mph

Drivers along Pacific Highway South in Kent will see the speed limit drop from 45 mph to 40 mph starting Saturday, Oct. 14.

The Kent City Council approved the change in February, which was recommended by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in an effort to improve safety along the highway (aka State Route 99) on Kent’s West Hill.

Crews are changing the signs between Kent Des Moines Road and South 272nd Street, which covers the Kent city borders. WSDOT also has worked with the cities of SeaTac, Des Moines and Federal Way to drop the speed limit to 40 mph on sections of Pacific Highway South within their borders.

Electronic signs to alert drivers will be put out on Wednesday, Oct. 11 in advance of the change and will remain out until Oct. 23. The new speed limit signs will have orange flags to draw attention.

Kent city staff already had looked at reducing speed between South 240th Street and Kent Des Moines Road due to light rail eventually opening (scheduled for 2026) in that area. WSDOT must sign off on speed limit changes as well since it is a state highway. State officials suggested extending the reduced speed area.

“Their study and our study agreed it’s a good idea,” said Erik Preston, city traffic engineer, in a Feb. 6 report to the City Council’s Public Works Committee. “There’s a complex nature of roads and driveways. There will be an additional signal at South 236th Street (part of light rail parking garage project) and more people and cars will be crossing the street. Those are all good reasons to lower the speed.”

It took eight months since council approval of lowering the speed because WSDOT officials also had to approve the change.

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