New Virginia law allows for 70 mph speeds

| 3/12/2010

Truckers and others traveling through portions of Virginia could be driving 70 mph by early summer.

Gov. Bob McDonnell put his signature on a bill to increase the 65 mph speed limit to 70 mph for all vehicles on rural sections of interstates where engineers deem it safe. The change also applies to other multilane, divided, limited-access highways and high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

It is now up to the Virginia Department of Transportation to decide where speeds can be increased on the nearly 1,300 miles of eligible roadway. Affected stretches could be cleared for 70 mph traffic as early as July 1.

The pursuit of higher speeds was led by McDonnell. He pledged during his run for governor a year ago to enable faster travel on rural stretches of highway statewide. During his State of the Commonwealth Address early this year he reiterated his desire to see 70 mph speeds implemented on stretches of I-95, I-64, I-77 and I-81.

McDonnell has said that the modest increase in the speed limit not only will be safe for travelers to arrive at their destinations in a timelier manner, but will also benefit transportation.

“This is an important early step toward our common goal of improving transportation in the Commonwealth,” McDonnell said in a statement.

Owner-operator and OOIDA Senior Member Jeff Ware of Farmville, VA, said a 70 mph limit will definitely help increase efficiency. He pointed out that the trucking industry needs all the help it can get with the push being made in Virginia to improve options for moving freight by rail.

“It will definitely help. If you consider the freight to rail push along the I-81 corridor, we’ve got to have the maximum efficiency to compete with the rate they’re going to be offering,” Ware told Land Line.

Ware also said a change to 70 mph makes sense because traffic is already traveling at that speed.

Delegate Bill Carrico, R-Galax, pointed out that the change would enable all vehicles to drive along at speeds they are accustomed to traveling.

“This is a common-sense reform that will make sure highway traffic moves at a more uniform speed on Virginia’s highways,” Carrico said in a statement.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Virginia in 2010, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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