How to win by losing 3.64 seconds

Medford is due to receive $2 million as this year's share of the state's new transportation funding bill. I have a suggestion on how the city can spend about $18 of that $2 million: Give someone an ax and have them chop down the 35 mph sign on East Main Street.

This is the brave new world of the MT's editorial page in which three editors will weigh in regularly with columns. Since this column's moniker is "My View," we get to write about things that bug us, even if they don't provide the gravitas of the editorials that run in this space on other days.

I'm sure everyone has traffic issues that bug them, mine (OK, one of mine) is that 35 mph sign on East Main. Here's the deal: As you drive east on East Main Street, beyond the Berkeley Way intersection, you're greeted by a sign that says you can now increase your speed from 30 to 35 mph. About three blocks later, the speed on East Main drops to 25 mph as the road narrows.

I've always thought that seemed like a waste of a perfectly good speed limit sign, but to be fair, I decided the other day to check out the time savings I get in that three-block autobahn by speeding up to 35.

It was 3.64 seconds — at 30 mph, it took me 29.96 seconds to travel from the sign to the narrowing of the street. At 35 mph, it took 26.32 seconds.

This is not an original complaint. A search of our archives found a Since You Asked question on the same topic. The rather foggy explanation was that the speed limit is gradually increased along East Main as traffic lessens and the number of access points (i.e., driveways) decreases. After Valley View, where the road narrows, "East Main becomes a residential street, and the speed limit drops to the statutory limit of 25 mph," according to the SYA explanation.

Now, wait a minute. That whole stretch of East Main consists of side-by-side residences, all with driveways, and nary a business in sight. It's also worth noting that many of those homes are of historical vintage, many built in the 1920s and '30s — with at least half a dozen designed by famed Medford architect Frank Clark.

Maybe our fair city's history would be better appreciated if we slowed down a bit on our paths between work and home. I've noticed that while a lot of people don't even drive the speed limit there, others push past it — what cop, after all, is going to give you a ticket for going 5 mph over the limit? That effectively makes the speed limit 40 mph. (Speeders beware: The narrow stretch of East Main just past Valley View is a favorite haunt of MPD's speed van.)

As for me, I'm planning an ongoing act of civil disobedience — I will disregard the 35 mph sign and cruise along at 30 whenever I'm in that neighborhood. I think I'll use the extra 3.64 seconds to admire the view.

— Reach Associate Editor Bob Hunter at




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