Texas in process of raising speed limits
05 September 2011
In May, the 82nd Texas Legislature passed and the Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 1353, which took effect on 1 September. This legislation allows the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to create a 75-mph speed limit on sections of the highway system found to be reasonable and safe through a speed study. The bill also eliminates the speed limit distinction between day and night and between cars and trucks.
A separate bill, HB 1201, also passed in May and signed by the Governor in June, amends the Transportation Code to repeal the authority for the establishment and operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor and amends that code and the Tax Code to remove statutory references to the corridor. In addition, the bill establishes certain conditions under which the commission may establish a speed limit not to exceed 85 mph on a part of the state highway system that was designed to accommodate travel at that speed if, after an engineering and traffic investigation, the commission determined that the speed limit was reasonable and safe.
HB 1353. The elimination of the day-night distinction under HB 1353 also applies to the currently allowed 80-mph speed limit (in daytime) on a part of Interstate Highway 10 or Interstate Highway 20 in Crockett, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kerr, Kimble, Pecos, Reeves, Sutton, or Ward Counties; i.e., West Texas.)
Outside of urban districts, the speed limit would be 70 mph on a numbered highway and 60 mph on a non-numbered highway. As soon as practicable, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) would have to conceal or remove any old speed limit signs and install updated ones.
TxDOT awarded maintenance contracts in August to remove the nighttime and truck speed limit signs and is also in the process of hiring consultants to perform the required speed studies needed to implement the higher speed limits.
We will be removing the existing nighttime speed limit signs, truck speed limit signs, and evaluating approximately 50,000 miles of state highway with a current 70-mile hour speed limit. With these contracts in place, we are moving steadily ahead to implement these new laws. However, it is important to remember that any increases to speed limits are not effective until the new speed limit signs are actually installed.—Carol Rawson, TxDOT Director of Traffic Operations
The existing 65-mile per hour night and truck speed limit signs should be removed by the end of this year. The complete evaluation of the state highway system and posting of all new 75 mph speed limits should be complete by early 2013.
Speed limits in Texas are set by the 85th percentile method, which represents the speed the majority of drivers are traveling at or below. TxDOT calls this a sound engineering principle used to set speed limits on highways nationwide for the past 60 years.
HB 1201. In 2002, Gov. Perry announced plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, which called for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to build 4,000 miles of multimodal corridors connecting major metropolitan areas over two decades. Over the next several years, the project faced a number of setbacks, according to the analysis of the bill by the House Research organization (HRO).
In 2009, TxDOT announced plans to suspend work on the Trans-Texas Corridor as a whole, focusing instead on key routes contained in the proposal.
HB 1201 also authorizes the Texas Transportation Commission to allow an oversize or overweight vehicle to be operated on a lane designated as an exclusive lane on the state highway system if the operation is supported by an engineering and traffic study that includes specified analyses and makes the authorization inapplicable to certain vehicles and roadways.
With more crude coming from Canada with the new pipeline, Texas could consume more fuel. That will make many suppliers happy, specially tar sand operators in Alberta. Viva Texas.
Posted by: HarveyD | 05 September 2011 at 07:40 AM
HarveyD why don't you complain about the Germans and their Autobahn, with long stretches that don't have any speed limits? Plus there already other US states that have higher speed limits, like Montana.
Posted by: ejj | 05 September 2011 at 09:12 AM
Speed limits do little to alter cumulative fuel consumption. More fuel is wasted sitting in commuter traffic than going fast. Better technology like higher MPG ICEs and conversion to PHEV/EV will have a far greater impact.
In the long run Alberta's tar pits will be a vast scarred wasteland - an unsightly monument to the addictive nature of monopoly and corruption.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 05 September 2011 at 09:32 AM
ejj...Germans drive 40 mpg diesel, high efficiency, high performance cars but Texans drive 14 mpg gas guzzler, heavy, monsters. There's a lot of difference, specially at higher speeds.
It was clearly demonstrated that our heavy gas guzzlers use less fuel a lower speeds. Anyway, many countries like to export crude to USA, specially at $100/barrel and as long as the USD is not too de-valued.
Posted by: HarveyD | 05 September 2011 at 12:33 PM
Reel$$ - I don't know how you can claim "In the long run Alberta's tar pits will be a vast scarred wasteland - an unsightly monument to the addictive nature of monopoly and corruption." There are reclaimed areas around the US that used to be strip mines, that look as good as they before the mining began. Mine reclamation requirements are major parts of most mining permits. I'm assuming the Canadians would have even more complex reclamation requirements than here in the US.
Posted by: ejj | 05 September 2011 at 01:25 PM
Fortunately we have many of our personal liberties restricted until about the age of 18.
By imposing as many restrictions as possible on adults, instead of as few as practical, we keep independent thinking and responsibility in check.
Who can question that the government is the best, most wise and efficient entity to determine everything we should do and can do.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 05 September 2011 at 05:44 PM
Good move Gov. Perry. Maybe a few lucky Texas Tea Baggers will kill themselves driving at these higher speeds particularly at night. It would be Divine retribution indeed.
Posted by: Mannstein | 05 September 2011 at 06:34 PM
ToppaTom - Mannheim doesn't agree with you.
Posted by: ejj | 05 September 2011 at 06:42 PM
The tar-sands miners still find it very difficult to reclaim the tailings from their operations. The fines remain suspended in liquid form for years after being put into settling ponds, and they remain toxic.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 05 September 2011 at 06:49 PM
Raising speed limit or not, most Americans are already driving at those speeds of 75-85 mph anyway, especially on long stretches of freeway. So, good move, Mr. Perry. The only losers will be the poor patrolmen and their Sheriff departments getting poorer from fewer traffic tickets. The poor patrolmen will have to drive even faster to catch those rare 90-100-mph speeders. They should all be drivin' Corvette, IMHO!
Posted by: Roger Pham | 05 September 2011 at 10:16 PM
Most people are not aware that it takes many more horse-power and much more energy to drive an automobile quickly from start to finish. This action is a clear sign to the oil speculators that they can raise the price to what ever level they wish and extort money from the stupid drivers and politicians of the US. The US is getting rid of the sale of 100 watt incandescent bulbs and by the same logic high motorway speeds and expensive high horsepower automobiles should be eliminated from federal government supported roads, and all vehicles should be required to be operated at fuel economic speeds. The computer controller in all modern vehicles can limit the speeds. Texas can build and maintain at its sole expense any race tracks that it wishes. It should be pointed out that the oil producers of texas are making very high profits in this speculative oil market that it is cooperating with. Automotive fuel can be made from coal at less than $1.00 a gallon, but oil speculators will not let it happen.
There is a big pretense that liquid fuel from coal or natural gas produces much more pollution than that from crude oil. It does not, but the oil pollution is far away where it is not seen. Oil leaks, refining losses, transportation and gas flaring are major sources of CO2 from oil production. ..HG..
Posted by: Henry Gibson | 06 September 2011 at 02:28 AM
HG....elections are coming and many politicians will need $$$$$ for their campaign. Firms with very deep pockets will be more generous when regulations that effectively increase their sales and profits are promulgated. That's one of the dark sides of our democratic society that will have to be fixed soon. Naysayers will never admit it but what has served us well in the past is slowly but surely killing our economy now. Unless we find ways to redress our covet ways, there will be major troubles ahead. We're overdue for a few Constitution Amendments to re-set it straight.
Posted by: HarveyD | 06 September 2011 at 10:25 AM
TT - well said. Big guv'mnt grows unchecked and flabby. As witnessed by the rate of American obesity.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 06 September 2011 at 10:27 AM
An effective fire wall is needed between all elected people and the money bags. Otherwise, we may be heading for more and more of the same and that spells sustained degradation. The last 10 years are just an early preview.
Posted by: HarveyD | 07 September 2011 at 04:37 PM