Many freeway segments across North Texas can expect higher speed limits soon and some roads will soon receive traffic flow improvements.
Some drivers may appreciate the faster speeds, but the changes are based on air quality issues.
The Regional Transportation Council approved funding Thursday to reverse speed reductions made in 2001. The speed limits were reduced by 5 mph on the same segments 13 years ago to reduce air pollution.
Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell, Vice Chairman of the Transportation Council, said he sees no down side.
“When you went over 70 miles an hour, emissions went way up,” Cantrell said. “Technology has caught up with us. If you go over 50 there’s control measures built into vehicles now so it’s only a slight increase in emissions.”
To make up for that slight increase in restoring the faster speed limits now, the plan calls for traffic flow improvements on side roads and expanded truck lane restrictions on the freeways where speed limits are expected to increase.
Some drivers welcome the faster speeds.
“I’d like to get where I’m going faster,” said driver Michael Ownby.
Others worry it will make freeways more dangerous.
“I think it’s bad to go faster because you got people going to work, kids going to school and it could create more accidents,” driver Vince Carter said.
The Texas Department of Transportation's Dallas District Chief Engineer, Bill Hale, said the increased speeds may actually improve safety.
He said these freeways were designed for the higher limits and many drivers are already traveling at that speed.
“At that point some people tend to try to go faster and others go too slow, and then people get behind them and cause more accidents,” Hale said.
It may be more than a year before drivers notice the speed changes on North Texas roads.