Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a bill into law July 14 that
could widen the speed gap for cars and trucks on Oregon’s rural interstate
highways. The effort breezed through the Legislature.
Under the law, local officials may request a change in
speeds within a specific area. ODOT would then review any requested change and
follow it up with a public meeting and updated speed study in the affected
There have not yet been any requests to modify speed limits.
The new rule, previously HB3252, would allow for truck speed
limits to increase from 55 mph to as much as 65 mph while increasing car speeds
from 65 mph to 70 mph on certain sections of rural interstates.
However, it leaves the door open for car speeds to increase
while truck speeds stay the same, Patrick Cooney, a commission spokesman, told Land
The latest version of the speed limit rule differs from an
earlier one in that a rate lower than 65 mph could be posted for
tractor-trailers and other large vehicles if safety conditions warrant a slower
The Oregon Transportation Commission would have the option
of setting a 65, 60 or 55 mph limit for trucks, Cooney said. They did not have
this flexibility in the first bill.
Kulongoski signed that measure into law in 2003. However, a
study conducted by the Transportation Commission later advised against boosting the current speed limit for
cars and trucks on rural interstates.
The study said that while it was reasonable to raise car
limits to 70 mph, “the engineering analysis supports a speed limit of 60 mph
for trucks and not a higher limit.”
Because the two speeds were linked in the rule, the
commission decided not to bump the limits.
By Keith Goble, state legislative editor