Bill to increase Indiana Toll Road speeds advances

| Tuesday, February 08, 2005

An Indiana House panel has approved a bill that would increase the speed limit for all drivers on the Indiana Toll Road. The bill would maintain the state’s 5-mph speed differential for cars and big trucks.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, is hopeful the speed boost will encourage more truck drivers to use the route.

The House Roads and Transportation Committee voted 6-4 on Monday, Feb. 7, to send the bill to the full House for further consideration.

The measure – HB1393 – would raise the speed limit from 60 mph to 65 mph for big trucks and from 65 mph to 70 mph for all other vehicles.

A similar Senate bill – SB217 – would make the same changes on interstates in the state outside areas with a population of at least 50,000. That bill, offered by Sen. Greg Server, R-Evansville, has passed out of committee and been sent to the Senate floor.

Stutzman said several roads in his district have considerable amounts of truck traffic, including U.S. 6 and U.S. 20.

By hiking the speed limit, Stutzman hopes that trucks will find it worthwhile to pay the tolls if they will get to their destinations quicker. The truck speed for the Ohio Turnpike was boosted to 65 mph last September.

The Ohio Turnpike Commission raised the truck limit from 55 mph to the same speed as all other vehicles, along with a toll reduction, in hopes of luring big trucks off overloaded two-lane roads and back onto the toll road.

Truck traffic in Ohio began spilling over to smaller roads after an 82 percent toll increase took effect in 1999.

“This bill simply hopes to move the truck traffic up to the Toll Road where they belong,” Stutzman, who noted that the Toll Road is built for heavier traffic, told Fort Wayne’s Journal Gazette.

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