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Reason for 55 mph speed limit is viaduct's narrow lanes

Try as I might, I cannot figure out why the powers that be thought it necessary to reduce the speed limit on Interstate 5 between exits 27 and 30 to 55 mph when there are no on- and off-ramps between them. For some reason that speed limit is not respected by 99 percent of the drivers I see, and certainly I have never seen it being enforced by the highway patrol. What gives here?

— Sharon D., Central Point

I didn't call any powers that be on this question; I'm going to hazard a guess strictly on my own.

The reason for the reduced speed limit is the viaduct, which is elevated and has narrow lanes with no emergency lanes, thus little room for error. Maybe not so bad to deal with in the summertime, but I'm sure ODOT likes to keep those speeds down when the weather is snowy and icy.

If the speed limit were 65 mph, then someone would be doing 65 mph even with the "Ice" signs lit. As for enforcement, maybe you're just lucky, but I see OSP troopers there all the time and, to a lesser degree, our Jackson County Sheriff's Department deputies.

You may be right about how many people don't respect the speed limit, but that's probably up and down the freeway, just not between exits 27 and 30.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.