Oregon lawmaker renews fight to up speeds

| 2/4/2003

An Oregon legislator has once again introduced a bill to raise the speed limit on the state's major thoroughfares

Rep. Randy Miller (R-Lake Oswego) has tried and failed several times to introduce similar bills, but all were blocked by former Gov. John Kitzhaber, an emergency room doctor who feared faster speeds would lead to more highway deaths.

Oregon's speed limit, including interstate highways, is 65 mph for cars and 55 mph for trucks.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has indicated he's more open to the idea, however. "We'll see what comes along," Kulongoski spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn told The Bulletin. "We're open to any number of proposals."

HB2501 gives the state Transportation Department the option of raising the speed limit on isolated, wide-open stretches such as U.S. Highway 20 between Bend and Burns.

The legislation would allow new maximums of 65 mph for trucks and 75 mph for cars - but only after engineering and traffic experts evaluate what is "reasonable and safe" for a particular highway.

Oregon is one of only two states (Iowa) west of the Mississippi River with speed limits below 70 mph, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.