In response to the expiration of speed limit laws on several roads, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors set new limits at their meeting Tuesday.
The board of supervisors raised speed limits on four county roads, while also lowering the speed limit on another. In all five cases, the roads had not undergone the required inspections and had thus reverted to a standard speed limit of either 55 or 65 miles per hour, depending on the size of the road. All roads are required by state law to have an Engineering and Traffic Survey performed every 10 years. If a road has not had an Engineering and Traffic Survey in the last 10 years, police cannot enforce speeding laws, as stipulated by posted speed limit signs. The affected county roads had gone longer than this time without inspection, but were all surveyed sometime in the last six months.
County officials were unable to say how long the speed limits had been expired. New limits will go into effect as soon as the county can replace the road signs.
County Deputy Director of Transportation Dace Morgan said the CHP had been unable to enforce speeding laws on these roads before the new limits were set.
“The most significant change that will be seen as a result of the speed limit adjustments is that the CHP can now legally enforce the speed limits on these roads,” Morgan said.
Middle Road and Mission Canyon Road will now have speed limits of 35 mph. Turnpike and Rucker Roads will have a limit of 40 mph. Rincon Hill Road will be set at 30 mph, and Via Real will have varying limits from 40 to 50 mph.
Before their limits expired, all of these roads had speed limits that were 5 mph lower than the new limits. Two exceptions are Rincon Hill, which had its limit lowered this week, and Mission Canyon, which remained the same.
First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said the board studied the issue heavily before voting.
“We have a traffic engineering committee made up of law enforcement, engineers and community interest groups that follows a prescribed formula to set the speed limit according to state law,” Carbajal said. “The paradox is that if we believe the recommended speed limit is not safe, we could decide to leave the old speed limit signs in place. However, the CHP would not be able to enforce those speed limits.”