agency asked the feds Monday for the go-ahead to suspend the 55-mph
speed limit on Houston-area highways with limits of 60 mph and
65 mph for all vehicles, including commercial vehicles. The speed
limit was lowered to 55 mph in May to help bring the eight-county
Houston-Galveston region into compliance with health standards
lower speeds were written into the plan to clean up the region's
air, the Environmental Protection Agency released data showing
that vehicles traveling 55 mph did not significantly reduce smog-producing
nitrogen oxide emissions. At the urging of state and local officials,
the EPA in June approved a recommendation to roll back the 55-mph
limit for cars and light trucks but continue to limit heavy-duty
the outgoing executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality, told the Houston Chronicle that issues arose almost immediately
on the proposal, focusing on how safe it was to have dual speed
limits on the freeways, and on whether the transportation agency
had the legal authority to impose them.
was a real safety issue," Saitas said. "I couldn't in
my heart sit down and recommend a proposal where it was possible
somebody could get hurt because of a differentiated speed limit.
I wouldn't want that to be on my conscience."
under the proposal sent to the agency, speed limits on roads with
70-mph limits before the 55-mph limit took affect would be set
at 65 mph. Roads with previous limits of 65 mph would be set at
the speed limit reportedly would revert to 55 mph in the region
unless other emission reductions can be made.
must be approved by the state's three-member environmental commission
at its meeting Sept. 25, be submitted for EPA approval and then
sent to the commissioners at the Texas transportation department.
If approved, TxDOT will set the timetable for the speed limit