The Tennessee Department of Transportation is posting signs for lowered speed limits on interstates and state routes in portions of Knox, Anderson, Blount, Loudon, Jefferson and Sevier counties.
The new limits reduce the speed to 55 mph from 65 mph for trucks. Other vehicles traveling on these sections of interstates and State Route 73, also known as U.S. 321, will be reduced to 65 mph, instead of 70 mph.
According to a press release, the speed reductions are being made after a request by the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization and county mayors.
Eight months ago, the group made the request with the intent of reducing vehicle emissions, thereby improving air quality, with the goal of bringing Knoxville and the East Tennessee Valley under the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal air quality health standard for ozone. Knox County and portions of the East Tennessee Valley are currently categorized by the EPA as a marginal non-attainment area.
“A study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration shows that reducing truck speed limits by 10 miles per hour can reduce the nitrogen oxide emission factor by approximately 18 percent or more per truck,” said TDOT Chief of Environment and Planning Ed Cole in a press release. “If we get reductions anywhere close to that level it will be worth it.”
There are 57 speed limit signs being installed. Several other signs showing “reduced speed ahead” will also be posted. Speed reductions will begin at the following locations:
- I-40 eastbound in Loudon County beginning at approximately mile marker 364;
- I-75 northbound in Loudon County beginning at approximately mile marker 67;
- I-75 southbound in Anderson beginning at approximately mile marker 130;
- I-81 southbound in Jefferson beginning at approximately mile marker 7;
- I-40 westbound in Jefferson beginning at approximately mile marker 430; and
- Five-mile section of U.S. 321 in Blount County.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be issuing warnings rather than citations the first two weeks the new speed limits are in affect in order to allow motorists time to adjust to the reduced speeds.