People of Northwest Public Radio
Fri September 7, 2012
Texas Road Will Inaugurate 85 MPH Speed Limit, Nation's Highest
Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 3:18 pm
The highest speed limit in America will be officially unveiled in November, when drivers on one portion of a Texas highway will be allowed to reach 85 mph without keeping an eye out for police cars and speed cameras.
As Transportation Nation reports, the new speed limit allows drivers to "legally drive faster than hurricane force winds."
The 85 mph limit will be enforced on 41 newly built miles of Texas 130, a toll road in the Austin area. The road's new section is slated to open in November.
"I would love it," Austin resident Alan Guckian says, according to The San Antonio Express. "Sometimes it's fun to just open it up."
Safety advocates are not thrilled with the change.
"The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up," Russ Rader, a spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, tells the AP.
The road's designers and state officials maintain that the highway is designed for the new speeds. But others are noting that raising the limit isn't just about personal freedom and horsepower — money also plays a role.
"This is no small financial matter to the state," wrote The Austin Statesman's Ben Wear back in April, when the bill setting the limit was passed. "Its contract with a consortium led by Cintra, a Spanish toll road company... specifies that TxDOT would get an extra $67 million if the speed limit is 80 mph. Set the limit at 85 mph, and that premium rises to $100 million."
In a move that presents drivers with a stark choice, the Express reports, the speed limit on a highway that runs parallel to Texas 130 has been lowered, from 65 to 55 mph.