Split speed battle continues in Connecticut

| Monday, April 14, 2003

One bill that would create a split speed limit in Connecticut is apparently dead, but another is still alive in the General Assembly.

HB5982, introduced by Rep. Brian O'Connor, D-Westbrook, would cut the speed limit for tractor-trailers from 65 mph to 55 mph. The bill was still listed in the Joint Committee on Transportation on April 8, and a spokesperson at the General Assembly said no further action had been taken on the bill. In addition, a spokesman for the Transportation Committee said the panel's deadline to pass bills this year – 5 p.m. April 2 – had passed, effectively killing the bill for this session. However, he said, such a measure could be amended onto another bill on the House floor.

Another bill, HB6672, would also create a lower speed limit for trucks on many of the state's highways, 55 mph as opposed to 65 mph for other vehicles. However, that bill also called for automatic photo-radar devices to catch speeders and raised the possibility that some exits on I-95 through the state would be closed for safety reasons.

While HB6672 did pass the Transportation Committee, the vote in favor of it was narrow – 14-12 – even though the committee created the bill, and one spokesman for the Transportation Committee indicated the bill was controversial. If it does not pass, however, the spokesman said its provisions could end up amended into another measure later in the session. Currently, the bill is before the Judiciary Committee.

HB6672 has spurred opposition among members of the trucking industry in the state. Some industry officials spoke out against the bill during hearings and in the media because of the split speed limit provision.

Dave Williams, an OOIDA member from Penns Grove, N.J., told The Stamford Advocate that the state's highways were too dangerous already without split speeds.

"If you take into consideration that the typical Connecticut automobile driver is irresponsible and has no regard for motoring laws, if you split the speed limit, it's only going to get worse," Williams told the newspaper. "As it is now, I don't like to come to Connecticut. When you had tolls up here, it was a good place to run. But now it seems like courtesy has gone out the window and everybody has road rage."

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark H. Reddig can be reached at mreddig@landlinemag.com.

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