Houston speed hike OK'd

| 9/27/2002

Texas' environmental commission Wednesday approved a recommendation to suspend the 55 mph speed limit on Houston-area highways. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Transportation Commission must still approve the change before the signs can start coming down.

Where vehicles previously could drive 70 mph on freeways before the 55-mph limit took affect in the eight-county Houston-Galveston region, it will now be 65; where the posted speed was 65, it will now be 60. This change would apply to all vehicles.

The speed limit was lowered to 55 mph in May to help bring the region into compliance with federal air quality standards by 2007. But after the 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.

Earlier this week, the EPA posted both proposed changes in the Federal Register, which opens the issue up to public comment for 30 days. Approval could come soon after.