Share

Vincent Gray raises the speed limit on 295 and Benning Road NE

|

The speed limit on a stretch of Benning Road NE (shown in red) will go up to 35 mph, and the speed limit on DC 295 (in blue) will go up to 50 mph. Graphic by Jennifer Peebles/Examiner. Local,DC,Transportation,Liz Essley

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray issued an emergency rule Friday afternoon raising the speed limit on two District roads.

The speed limit on Benning Road NE between Oklahoma Avenue and Kenilworth Avenue will go up to 35 mph. The speed limit on DC 295 will go up to 50 mph.

The previous speed limit on 295 switched between 45 to 50 mph -- a headache for drivers trying not to get caught by the city's speed cameras posted on that road.

"These are roadways where we have previously studied the speed limits and can make changes immediately without significantly impacting safety," Gray said in a statement. "We want drivers to respect our traffic laws, and in return we have to have realistic expectations of them that match the physical environment, while continuing to protect pedestrians and cyclists."

The move comes just as Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells prepare to usher a bill through the council that would have called for a review of all the city's speed limits and cut fines for traffic camera tickets. Gray already unilaterally moved to cut the fines, though not by as much as the council bill called for.

A spokeswoman from Cheh's office disputed whether Gray had the power to change speed limits or traffic camera fines through an emergency rule and said the council may strike them down.

"The mayor can only issues emergency rules if there is a legitimate, immediate threat to public safety," said Cheh spokeswoman Kiara Pesante.

But mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said lawyers from the office of inspector general had no problem with Gray's move.

"Why would you legislate the changing of speed limits? That's a regulatory situation," he said.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment