Staff photo/Hayley Day
                                A car drives past the current speed limit sign on Argyle Avenue between Pear Point Road and Mullis Street.

Staff photo/Hayley Day A car drives past the current speed limit sign on Argyle Avenue between Pear Point Road and Mullis Street.

San Juan County Council changes speed limits on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez

Island drivers will either be hitting the brakes or revving up, thanks to San Juan County Council’s changes to local speed limits.

Five out of 10 proposed local speed limit changes passed at the Tuesday, March 13 county council meeting. The new limits will take effect once they are posted on roadways within a few weeks. Changes were proposed by citizens, as well as county staff.

San Juan

The two proposed changes on San Juan passed unanimously. The speed limit on Argyle Avenue, between Pear Point Road and Mullis Street, was reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph. There are no shoulders on the road for pedestrians and cyclists and two collisions have been reported there since 2007.

Three citizens, who live near the area, requested the speed be lowered at the meeting. One of the citizens said he had a request for a lower speed limit, signed by 13 of his neighbors.

Two sections on West Side Road on San Juan were also unanimously voted to have their speed limits increased. Instead of the current 20 mph, the northern section of the road will be 35 mph and the southern section will be 25 mph. Eight collisions have been reported on the road since 2007, but according to county data, most drivers travel 40 mph on the northern end of the road and 34 mph on the southern end.

Comparing actual speed to posted speeds was used to determine staff recommendations on the limit changes.

“The posted speed is only meaningful if the majority of drivers follow it,” said Colin Huntemer, county engineer, who noted that enforcing speeds that the majority of drivers don’t use may be difficult.


One speed limit was reduced on Orcas Island out of the three presented to council.

A section of Enchanted Road, near the Lover’s Lane intersection, was reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph. One citizen, at the meeting, requested the lower speed for the road, which has a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists near it.

The speed limits for parts of Crescent Beach Road and Point Lawrence Road were not lowered from 35 mph to 25 mph. The majority of drivers on both roads travel 40 mph, in certain parts, according to the staff report.


Two of the five proposed speed limit changes on Lopez Island were approved.

All of the roads in Lopez Village were reduced from 25 mph to 20 mph, after six collisions were reported in the area since 2007. These accidents were reported on Eads Lane, Lopez Road, Tower Drive and Weeks Point Way.

“This has been supported widely,” said Councilman Jamie Stephens of Lopez about the speed limit change.

Part of Lopez Road, inside the Urban Growth Area of Lopez Village, was also reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph. UGAs are areas that allow dense populations in the county.

Cross Road was not reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph and no collisions have been reported there.

A section of Center Road’s speed limit was not lowered from 45 mph to 35 mph, nor was part of Fisherman Bay Road lowered from 35 mph to 25 mph. The majority of drivers, states the report, travel up to 46 mph on certain parts of the Center Road section and 41 mph on parts of the Fisherman Bay Road section.

Council will vote on whether to approve maps that display these changes at the March 27 council meeting to finalize the March 13 votes.

View maps of the proposed speed limit changes below. The term “85th percentile” indicates the speed 85 percent of drivers use on the roads. The West Side Road proposal was updated at the meeting and not reflected in the report.

San Juan County Traffic Study: