Bill would push Pa. turnpike speed limit to 70 mph

May 16, 2012 10:22:14 AM PDT
The speed limit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike could increase to from 65 mph to 70 mph if an Allegheny County lawmaker gets his way.

The House Transportation Committee endorsed the bill last week by a vote of 18-4, but it's unclear whether it will be debated on the House floor, The Patriot-News reported Wednesday. Leaders of the House Republican majority are said to be reviewing the legislation.

The sponsor, Rep. Joe Preston, says modern improvements have made vehicles and the turnpike safer than ever and that he wants to give the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission the authority to increase the limit.

"When you spend 15,000 to 18,000 miles a year on the turnpike, you notice the difference," said Preston, a Democrat who was defeated in the April 24 primary.

The turnpike speed limit was 70 mph from 1941 until a national 55-mph limit was established in 1973, according to the commission. The proposed increase would be the first since the maximum limit was increased to 65 mph in 1995.

Neither the commission nor the Pennsylvania AAA Federation has taken a position on the bill.

Turnpike spokesman William Capone said the commission is monitoring the bill's progress. Even if it becomes law, he said it would likely take months to complete traffic-safety engineering studies and make new speed-limit signs.

In random interviews, several turnpike users said they favored the higher limit.

Vince Sullivan, also of Harrisburg, said he uses the turnpike while traveling to and from the University of Pittsburgh, where he is a senior.

"When I'm driving, I at least go 70 on the turnpike," Sullivan said. "I don't know if that would cause safety issues or not, but it will definitely allow me to not worry as much when I can get to Pittsburgh in maybe three hours instead of 3? hours," he added.

Jim Runk, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, said his group isn't taking a position on the bill. He said most tractor-trailer rigs are equipped with speed-limiting devices.

"My truck doesn't go 70, but 70 wouldn't be a problem with me," said truck driver Luther Nelson, of Albany, N.Y. "People go faster than that now anyway."

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Information from: The Patriot-News


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