Uniform speeds days away from reality in Illinois

| 12/30/2009

Trucks traveling rural interstate highways in Illinois soon no longer will be restricted to 55 mph. Compliments of Gov. Pat Quinn who signed a bill into law this summer, vehicles weighing more than 8,000 pounds will be allowed to travel 65 mph on highways outside Chicago and the five surrounding “collar” counties.

The change has been championed by OOIDA and Illinois truckers who have relentlessly pushed for uniform speeds throughout the state. While counting down the days until all vehicles will be traveling at the same speed on most rural interstates, truckers in Illinois will have to wait a bit longer to see that the change is made.

Despite a Friday, Jan. 1, effective date for the uniform speed rule, signs limiting large trucks and other affected vehicles to 55 mph won’t start coming down until the following week.

Paris Ervin, an Illinois Department of Transportation spokesperson, said the State Police requested the delay. The process also will be slow.

“We will begin making alterations to the signing on Jan. 4, weather permitting. If everything goes well, we anticipate the signing changes to not take longer than a couple weeks,” Ervin wrote in an e-mail.

The old signage will be removed. On unaffected interstates, and non-interstate highways posted at 55 mph for trucks, campers, trailers and motor homes, signage will be replaced with a standard 55 mph speed limit sign and a “Trucks Over 4 Tons” plaque.

The cost to the state to make the changes is estimated at about $75,000.

The State Police is allowing trucks to start driving 65 mph on Friday, even without the new signage posted. According to Ervin, however, in instances where truckers are traveling along portions of roadway posted at 55 mph that they believe should be 65 mph, the best policy is to “follow the posted speed limit and give IDOT time to make the changes.”

If travelers feel there is a sign posted in error, Ervin asks that they notify IDOT so the location can be reviewed.

Weight limit change
While elimination of the speed gap on most interstates is the most notable rule change for the New Year in Illinois, another change establishes a single standardized formula for establishing default truck weight limits on all roads statewide.

The new rule takes on the federal bridge formula as the default weight limit formula for state and local road systems. The formula, which is the national standard, tops out at 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.

The change also affects axle weights. The federal bridge formula limits single axles to 20,000 pounds while tandem axles are limited to 34,000 pounds. Previously, the state bridge formula set those limits at 18,000 pounds and 32,000 pounds, respectively.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the topic included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.