State representatives should push the pedal to the medal and pass a bill to raise the speed limit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Rep. Joe Preston, D-Pittsburgh, wants the General Assembly to give the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission permission to increase the top speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on its toll roads. He told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg that advances in vehicles and road improvements have made the turnpike safer, allowing for the higher speed limit.
The same argument could be made for other limited access highways, including parts of Interstate 99, and we would favor amending House Bill 2119 to give PennDOT the same authority to raise speed limits where appropriate.
In a December memorandum to other House members seeking cosponsors for his legislation, Preston wrote that a higher speed limit would encourage drivers to use the turnpike, which benefits the state because they are paying to use the toll road. He added that Ohio recently allowed its turnpike authority to set a 70 mph speed limit, except in construction zones.
Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that have a top speed limit of 65 mph on rural interstates.
Obviously, there are some areas where the interchange configuration, traffic volumes or other factors might not make the higher speed limit advisable.
That's why HB 2119 calls for traffic studies before the change is made and a year later to see if higher speeds are creating safety issues.
HB 2119 won't guarantee parts of the turnpike will see a higher speed limit, just the possibility of it should conditions warrant. It's a sensible approach that deserves legislative approval.
- Altoona Mirror