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Ferndale plans to take away most speed limit signs

City Council voted  Monday, May 18 to remove many of the speed limit signs in Ferndale because it would save month on maintenance and replacement costs.
City Council voted Monday, May 18 to remove many of the speed limit signs in Ferndale because it would save month on maintenance and replacement costs. The Bellingham Herald

Drivers in this city wanting to avoid a ticket should stop relying on speed limit signs, because most of them are going away.

City Council voted 5-0 at its Monday, May 18, meeting to reduce the number of speed limit signs, thinking the city could save money normally devoted to maintaining and replacing current signs. The motion carried on the condition that the Ferndale Police Department will sign off on the location of the remaining signs.

“It’s a way for us to reduce our burden to taxpayers,” Mayor Gary Jensen said at the council meeting. “I think it’s a good move.”

Jensen said it will be at least six months before city workers begin taking down signs. The city wants to hear from the public before making decisions about which signs to keep.

There are 174 speed limit signs in the city, and most of those are 25 mph. The city thinks the total number of signs could be reduced to 25, though Jensen said there likely will be more than that left after listening to the public’s input.

Twenty signs per year are replaced due to damage or fading, costing a total of $2,200 each year in materials, the city estimates. A sign typically lasts 15 to 20 years, Jensen said.

“Signs get damaged, wrecked, vandalized and stolen more than you’d think,” Jensen said.

Jensen thinks Ferndale could save money by getting rid of as many signs as possible instead of replacing them with new, more expensive reflective signs that are now required.

Taking away signs is not a way to write more speeding tickets, Jensen said.

“The ultimate dream is we would be able to cut down enough signs, and people would know, ‘I should drive 25 until something else tells me,’” Jensen said.

In Whatcom County, the speed limit is 35 mph unless otherwise posted.

Jensen said speeding tickets are “not a money maker” for the city because of the time and resources required to collect unpaid tickets.

“I would hope that (the number of speeding tickets) does not go up, I would hope that it would stay the same or go down,” Jensen said.

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