Are The Speed Zones On 395 And The Blue Bridge Messed Up?

So I saw a recent posting in the Tri-Cities Facebook page where the commenter was complaining about the Blue Bridge speed zones.

Should The Blue Bridge Speed Limit Be Increased Or Decreased?

The post talked about the fact that you either get speeders or slow drivers across the Blue Bridge and that they thought the Blue Bridge speed of 55 needed to be adhered to.

It got me thinking, are the speed zones on the Blue Bridge and Highway 395 messed up?

I think they should be flipped and here's why:

The Case for a Safer Blue Bridge

The Blue Bridge carries traffic over the Columbia River between Pasco and Kennewick.

Despite its crucial link in the area's infrastructure, the 55 MPH speed limit may not be the best fit for its characteristics.

The bridge's narrow lanes and minimal shoulders leave little room for error, especially during the frequent high-wind conditions that can buffet vehicles.


The Science of Speed Limits

According to the Federal Highway Administration, speed limits should be set based on the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed at or below which 85% of vehicles travel.

This methodology aims to balance safety and efficiency, ensuring that speed limits aren't unrealistically low, which can lead to accidents from a differential in speed.

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Hazardous Zones and Accidents

Statistically, the on-ramps and off-ramps leading onto the Blue Bridge see a disproportionate number of accidents.

Research suggests the 55 MPH speed limit might be too high given the short distance of these ramps and the volume of merging traffic.

KPD video image
KPD video image

The 395 Conundrum

Highway 395 is the proverbial artery of the Tri-Cities, bustling with a mix of local commuters, long-haul trucks, and tourists. However, as it courses through Kennewick, the speed limit presents an interesting puzzle – and an occasional frustration for drivers.

Kennewick's Sudden Slowdown

A notable feature of the Kennewick section of 395 is the sudden drop from 45 MPH to a mere 35 MPH near 7th Ave, a move that seems to serve little more than to house speed traps for Kennewick Police. Such an abrupt change raises questions about its utility in controlling traffic.

Reimagining Speed Zone Placement

It's not about advocating for faster driving, but rather for efficient traffic management.

Given that the 395 receives more traffic than the Blue Bridge and features larger lanes and more spacious shoulders, perhaps a more even distribution of speed limits is warranted.


For instance, a 45 MPH limit on the Blue Bridge, where conditions are more hazardous, might be better rounded with 395 retaining the 55 MPH limit for most of its length within city limits.

So what do you think? should the speed zones be flipped on 395 and the Blue Bridge?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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