TxDOT, Local Leaders Want Speed Limit Increase

When it comes to setting speed limits, it may seem pretty obvious safety has a lot to do with it. What you may not know, however, is that so does air quality.

In 2001, speed limits were lowered on most highways across the Metroplex to help reduce emissions and ultimately come into compliance with federal air quality guidelines. But these days, most cars have much lower emissions and experts said speed doesn't have the impact it used to.

"You don't get the same bang for your buck by lowering speeds at the high level," said Chris Klaus, a senior program manager for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

It's why the NCTCOG has partnered with the Texas Department of Transportation to try to raise speed limits. Klaus said once you leave the DFW area, speed limits on highways can increase 10 to 15 miles per hour -– and that difference in speed limit is a safety concern.

"We're trying to make sure there are smoother transitions," said Klaus. "We're not going to [raise the speed limit] to 75 because now you're starting to get into a more urban area. But we want to bring a more consistent flow with the traveling public."

Drivers NBC 5 spoke with had mixed feelings about increased speed limits.

"Most people are already driving fast," said Patrick Allen, who lives in Arlington. "So you might as well raise the limit."

"The faster you go, the worst the economy is on your car," said Lindsay Paine, who also lives in Arlington. "So increasing the speed limit doesn't hit me as such a good idea."

It could take up to a year before drivers actually see new speed limits. Klaus said raising the speed limit could still have some impact on air quality, so they've had to find other areas where they can make improvements to offset that.

"Things like signal improvements, expansion of our intelligent travel system on the freeways, truck lane restrictions," said Klaus. "All of these elements will get us a reduction in emissions."

Thursday, they'll learn if they get the roughly $84 million in funding they'll need to make those improvements.

Then, so long as the federal and state governments sign off on the plan, speed limits will increase.

NCTCOG says it's still working with TxDOT to determine what the new speed limits should be. A 5 mph increase is one option they're considering.

CLICK HERE to read more on this in the Dallas Morning News

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