Who sets speed limits?Who establishes the speed limit within city limits, MnDOT, county or city, and what criteria do they use?
By: By Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Trooper, Alexandria Echo Press
Question: Who establishes the speed limit within city limits, MnDOT, county or city, and what criteria do they use?
Answer: In my first reply to the person asking the question, I said that basically the city can set speed limits within the city. What I should have said is that Minnesota state law basically sets speed limits and cities can set different speed limits if certain conditions are met.
The area in question is apparently rural in nature and yet is within city limits. I wish to apologize to all involved if my first “shot from the hip” answer caused confusion. So I will try to set it straight.
Minnesota statute 169.14 sets the basic speed limits in our state and in subdivision 2 it states (note, I am not quoting the entire subdivision and adding my own emphasis to help clarify for you): (a) Where no special hazard exists the following speeds shall be lawful: (1) 30 miles per hour in an urban district; (7) 25 miles per hour in residential roadways if adopted by the road authority having jurisdiction over the residential roadway; and (8) 35 miles per hour in a rural residential district if adopted by the road authority having jurisdiction over the rural residential district.
According to sb 2 clauses (b) and (c) the speed limits set forth in #7 and #8 above [the 25 mph limit for residential roadway and 35 mph in a rural residential district] are not effective unless the road authority has erected signs designating the speed limit and indicating the beginning and end of the roadway on which the speed limit applies.
Now subdivision 5, in part, reads: When local authorities believe that the existing speed limit upon any street or highway, or part thereof, within their respective jurisdictions and not a part of the trunk highway system is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under existing conditions, they may request the commissioner to authorize, upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation, the erection of appropriate signs designating what speed is reasonable and safe, and the commissioner may authorize the erection of appropriate signs designating a reasonable and safe speed limit thereat, which speed limit shall be effective when such signs are erected.
Trooper Andy’s translation: If a town believes the 30 mph speed limit to be faster than is reasonable then they can ask the commissioner of public safety to conduct an engineering and safety investigation. If such investigation reveals a 20 mph limit to be reasonable then signs can be erected and the speed limit changed to 20 mph. If the investigation reveals that the 30 mph limit is reasonable then that speed limit shall stay as is.
Subdivision 5b, in part, reads: When any segment of at least a quarter-mile in distance of any city street, municipal state-aid street, or town road on which a speed limit in excess of 30 miles per hour has been established pursuant to an engineering and traffic investigation by the commissioner meets the definition of “urban district” the governing body of the city or town may by resolution declare the segment to be an urban district and may establish on the segment the speed limit for urban districts prescribed in subdivision 2 [30 mph urban district speed limit].
According to statute 169.01 sb 90 “Urban district” means the territory contiguous to and including any city street or town road that is built up with structures devoted to business, industry, or dwelling houses situated at intervals of less than 100 feet for a distance of a quarter of a mile or more.
Trooper Andy’s translation: If your rural road/street is within city limits and has a posted speed limit of 45 mph and your neighborhood does meet the definition of an “urban district” then the city/town can declare your neighborhood to be an urban district and establish the 30 mph speed limit.
Parents, don’t just hand over the keys to your new driver. Please take the time to ride with them and let them gain experience before allowing them to face the dangers of a public road on their own.
If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes MN 56501-2205. Or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.