ESCONDIDO — Centre City Parkway will soon have posted speed limits for the first time in the thoroughfare’s history.
The Escondido City Council voted to establish speed limits throughout the corridor on Jan. 24, following recommendations from both city staff and the city’s Transportation and Community Safety Commission, which met earlier in January to approve the new speed limits.
The corridor was one part of US Highway 395 until the city took over ownership in 1978. Since then, the city has never posted new speed limits and has stuck with its 65-mile-per-hour prima facie speed limit as per state law until now.
New speeds will vary along the 6.5-mile stretch of road that extends from the city’s northern and southern boundaries based on a breakdown of different road segments.
The northern city limits to El Norte Parkway will be 55 miles per hour, El Norte to Mission Avenue will be 50 miles per hour, Mission to Towne Centre Driveway will be 45 miles per hour, and Towne Centre to the city’s southern limits will be 50 miles per hour.
According to City Traffic Engineer Edd Alberto, the new speed limits were determined based on the activity surrounding the road segments plus state-required traffic and engineering studies that calculated the average prevailing speeds in each segment.
In 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that gave cities the right to maintain and enforce speed limits and roll back speed limit increases that happened several years ago, if the increase was not based on any physical changes to the design of the street.
The state also requires cities to periodically conduct traffic surveys to ensure speed limits reflect current conditions.
The uses along the corridor vary; for example, the northern portion above El Norte has long stretches between signalized intersections with little development along the roadway, which allows for the highest of the new speed limits. In comparison, the stretch from Mission to Towne Centre has more closely spaced intersections and is surrounded by downtown uses and activity.
“Through our monitoring, we felt like it was time to post the speed limits,” Alberto told The Coast News.
According to the staff report, speed plays a critical role in the cause and severity of motor crashes. As speed increases, the risk of fatality in a crash also increases.
The report also cites the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Literature Review on Vehicle Travel Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries,” a 1999 study noting that fatal and serious injury rates “increase substantially” when speeds rise.
Signage for the new speed limits will cost the city approximately $2,000. The new limits will go into effect once all signage is posted.
Alberto said the city hopes to post the new signs by the end of February.
The city will also begin posting temporary signs near the freeway exits and other entry points onto Centre City Parkway in the weeks before the new signage, warning residents that the speeds have changed. Police will issue warnings to drivers during the first two weeks of the new speed limit signs being posted.