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Driving You Crazy: Why are there multiple speed limits on 26th between Wadsworth and Sheridan?

Speed limits
Posted at 5:38 AM, Apr 26, 2022

Joycelyn from Edgewater writes, “What’s Driving You Crazy? OK Jayson, here is what is driving me crazy!!! Wondering why there are different speed limits on 26th Ave between Wadsworth and Sheridan? It literally goes from 35 mph then changes from 25 mph (unless otherwise posted) back to 30 mph??”

That is a unique stretch of road, Joycelyn, as 26th Avenue between Wadsworth and Sheridan boulevards is maintained by three different cities — Lakewood, Edgewater and Wheat Ridge.

The speed limit along 26th Avenue between Wadsworth Boulevard and Pierce Street in the Lakewood/Wheat Ridge portion is set at 35 mph.

It’s mostly 30 mph between Pierce Street and Sheridan Boulevard through the Wheat Ridge/Edgewater portion of 26th Avenue, but there is a new, short section of 26th Avnue that is now 25 mph. I’ll explain that in just a bit.

Since 26th Avenue is shared between cities right down the middle of the street, those cities have to agree on the speed limit. The section from Wadsworth Boulevard to Pierce Street is shared between Wheat Ridge on the north and Lakewood on the south. The section between Pierce Street and Sheridan Boulevard is shared between Wheat Ridge to the north and Edgewater to the south.

Dan Maples, Edgewater city manager, said they work directly with Wheat Ridge to establish the speed limit.

“Yes, both cities had to agree on the 30 mph since the road is shared. Every city has a different view of streets and minimum speed limits. Thirty is what was agreed upon.”

So, why, then, is the speed limit 5 mph higher in the Lakewood/Wheat Ridge section of 26th Avenue?

“In searching city records, we can only find information dating back to 1999,” said Stacie Oulton, public information officer for the City of Lakewood. “At that time, the speed limit was listed as 35 mph for the Lakewood section. This speed limit might have been in place since before the city incorporated in 1969 or at the time the city was incorporated.”

“Specifically for 26th Avenue between Wadsworth and Pierce, this area has low density residential on both sides of street and the speed was set to 35 mph. In contrast, the segment between Pierce and Sheridan is set to a lower speed of 30 mph due to high density housing and high pedestrian activity along this stretch. With the Edgewater commercial center to the south of 26th, there is known pedestrian activities crossing at various points on 26th to reach that particular destination,” added Sara Spaulding with the City of Wheat Ridge.

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“State law says local streets are to have a 30 mph speed limit, and business districts are to have a 25 mph speed limit, unless otherwise posted,” Oulton said. “Lakewood has not changed the default speed limits from state law, and West 26th Avenue in Lakewood is considered a major collector roadway for the city. As a result, it has a higher speed limit than a local roadway would under state law.”

“Even though the speed limits are different along this stretch of 26th Avenue, these are well within the range for a collector street such as 26th Avenue,” Spaulding said. “This is similar to 32nd Avenue from Wadsworth to Kipling Street where a lower speed limit is set at 30 mph in front of the WR High school and Crown Hill Park, and the segment east of there is set to 35 mph where we have low density residential area.”

Recently, a new pedestrian crosswalk area was constructed in the middle of 26th at Kendall Street. The cities of Wheat Ridge and Edgewater agreed to lower the speed limit on either side of it to 25 mph. The lower speed limit starts in the westbound lanes at Ingalls Street and continues to just before Newland Street. On the eastbound side, the lower speed starts near Lamar Street to nearly Fenton Street.

Referring to the other 25 mph signs, there is one just east of Pierce Street for eastbound traffic entering Edgewater. The other is just west of Sheridan for westbound traffic entering Wheat Ridge. Both signs read, "Speed Limit 25 unless otherwise posted." Maples said those aren’t the same as speed limit signs.

“Yes, this is confusing sometimes. The speed limit changes where it is posted. So, the 35 limit would carry until it was first posted as 30 mph. We have to post the minimum speed limit on all entry borders, so if the speed limit is not posted, a minimum is known.”

“From a practical standpoint the City of Wheat Ridge doesn’t sign every street so drivers will see signs where that limit changes but not always the one that states 25 mph,” Spaulding said.

So, in essence, Joycelyn, there are three speed limits along 26th Avenue between Wadsworth and Sheridan boulevards — four if you include the 20 mph school zone speed limit at the school crossing at 26th Avenue and Depew Street. It’s there to help the kids walking to or from Edgewater Elementary school.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.