bill sponsored by several Texas lawmakers would drop speeding fines
to $25 on Houston-area roads where the speed limits were lowered
because of a regional plan to reduce air pollution, the Houston
bill would apply anywhere where speed limits are lowered for pollution
reasons, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It also would keep
those tickets off a driver's record, which can trigger higher auto
Reps. Dennis Bonnen of Angleton and Gary Elkins and Debbie Riddle
of Houston contend that if the Texas Department of Transportation
has determined that 70 mph is safe, drivers should not be penalized
for exceeding an artificially low limit.
an environmental speed zone they've created, and I believe we should
call it what it is," Bonnen said. "It's basically at that
point just a clean-air infraction. It's not a speeding infraction."
limits were lowered in the environmental plan on virtually every
highway in Harris, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Waller, Montgomery, Liberty,
Chambers and Galveston counties. However, drivers going more than
20 mph over the limit would not benefit from the proposed reduced
backing the bill say area highways have already been deemed safe
for higher speed limits and the lower limits were not set for safety
however, support the state clean air plan that led to the lowering
of the speed limit and oppose the legislation, filed as HB1001.
December 2000, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission,
since renamed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, initiated
a clean air program affecting eight counties in the Houston metropolitan
area. The program included lowering the speed limit to reduce emissions.
year, the TCEQ capped speed limits at 55 mph but then raised some
back to as high as 65 mph after a public outcry. The 70 mph limit
prevalent on many area roads before the change has not returned.
Last November, an Austin state court struck down a challenge to
the clean air plan by Brazoria County, which filed a lawsuit seeking
to restore the 70 mph speed limit.