Three young lives have been lost in two separate accidents in a five-week period on Interstate 182. In both instances, the drivers were following the law and within the posted speed limit.
The legal limit on that stretch of road, however, is 70 mph.
Perhaps it's too fast.
Washington has set its overall speed limits at 70 mph for rural interstates and 60 mph for urban interstates. The distinction between urban and rural is based on population.
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When Interstate 182 opened in 1986, the population of Pasco was around 20,000, and the new highway's rural designation probably made sense.
But times are changing in Franklin County.
Anyone who has been to the TRAC or a Dust Devils game or the soccer fields or shopping on Road 68 knows that's true.
Pasco's population is more than double what it was 20 years ago, and most of the growth is on the west side of town, conveniently close to I-182.
Today, the highway cuts through neighborhoods instead of crop circles.
And it's not just Pasco that's feeling the squeeze.
I-182 is a 15-mile road that joins Interstate 82 with U.S. Highway 12. It has four exits in Richland and seven in Pasco -- all of which are increasingly busy.
In Richland, I-182 serves as a link between the bypass highway and various Pasco and Kennewick destinations. During shift changes at Hanford, the congestion can rival big city traffic.
The interstate also connects the fast-growing Badger Mountain area and the shopping hub at Queensgate to the rest of the Tri-Cities.
At virtually any point along its 15-mile course, I-182 is getting plenty of use these days.
The pressure on our roads and highways will only increase in the years ahead. The Tri-Cities continues to be one of the fastest-growing regions in the state.
Most highway fatalities involve some combination of alcohol and excessive speed. But that wasn't the case in either of these recent accidents.
On Sunday morning, a car returning from a family trip to Yakima collided with a slower moving vehicle, struck the concrete barrier and fell more than 30 feet, landing on its roof.
Passenger Joevani Olivera, 16, was killed in the crash.
On Oct. 5, Richland cousins Alexandra Hatley-Flores, 12, and Taylor Tefft, 11, were injured when the car they were riding in also collided with a slower-moving vehicle that was having mechanical troubles. Both girls later died.
Keeping within the speed limit appears to be common practice on I-182.
During July through September, more than 2.6 million vehicles traveled that stretch interstate at an average speed of 68.75 mph.
But even with drivers averaging below the 70 mph limit, close calls are common.
The recent tragedies raise an important question for the rest of us: Are we pushing our luck?
For safety's sake, it's time to take another look at the speed limit on I-182.