Happy Birthday, ‘Murica. And in honor of that time honored American pasttime, the summer road trip, several states have recently upped their speed limits, meaning a quicker drive to wherever you’re headed. Assuming, of course, you actually paid attention to the old speed limits in the first place. On a side note, followers of my old blog might remember the big speed limit chart I had on a separate page. I don’t plan to resurrect that on the new blog – too cumbersome to do on this site – but I will occasionally post items like these highlighting information on speed limits and other information useful to road trippers.
On the east coast, Maine kicked off the festivities after the Memorial Day weekend by raising the speed limit on several rural sections of I-95 north of Augusta and I-295 north of Portland to 70 miles per hour, and a handful of urban interstates to 60 or 65. That’s up from the old limits of 65 and 55, respectively. It’s been legal to drive 75 on I-95 north of Bangor for several years now.
Also out east, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett signed a bill last year authorizing the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to raise freeway speed limits to 70 mph, where they are currently posted at 65. Those new limits are supposed to be posted on selected sections of freeway this summer, but PennDOT hasn’t announced where or when that will occur yet. I cut through a good chunk of the Keystone State on my road trip to Boston in May, and can testify that none of the new limits have been posted yet. Not that anyone paid attention to the existing 65 mph limits anyway. With my cruise set between 70 and 72, I was still getting routinely passed.
Heading west, Wyoming raised speeds from 75 to 80 mph on Tuesday on approximately 500 miles of interstate – 268 miles of I-25 between Cheyenne and Sheridan, 116 miles of I-80 in the Rock Springs area and east of Cheyenne, and 104 miles of I-90 between Buffalo and Sundance. According to some reports, additional sections of both I-80 and I-90 are still being studied to see if the higher limit is warranted. But beware – the Wyoming Highway Patrol warns that the new limits will be strictly enforced, and that they REALLY mean it this time.
In addition, the Cowboy State’s neighbor to the east west, Idaho, was set to raise speed limits on much of I-15, I-84, and I-86 on Tuesday from 75 to 80 as well, but thanks to lobbying from the insurance industry (hello, AAA), the increases have been postponed. It now appears that the increases will be approved by the Idaho Transportation Department on July 11 at the earliest. The state is also evaluating increasing limits on I-90 in the Idaho panhandle, along with other 2-lane roads in rural areas of the state, from 65 to 70, though those increases are likely several months if not years off.
Meanwhile, if your summer travels take you north of the border, British Columbia has announced an increase in its maximum speed limt to 120 kmh (75 mph) from the old limit of 110 kmh (68 mph). This increase applies only to rural freeways, but other provincial roads will see their limits raised by up to 20 kmh (12 mph).
Of course, none of these faster speeds can compare to the SH 130 toll road southeast of Austin, where the speed limit is 85. Yes, I have driven this stretch of highway. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed legally driving 85 on a public highway. No, I didn’t take a picture of the sign, but I really wish I had, as it would have been an awesome lead-in to this post. (If you decide to try out this highway for yourself, do yourself a favor and watch out for the feral hogs. I have to imagine that hitting a pig while doing 85 won’t be much fun, for you or your car.)
Wherever you’re headed this Fourth of July, happy trails!