By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A new Texas law effectively puts a tombstone on a once-ballyhooed proposed superhighway. Perhaps more notably, the new law also authorizes the fastest speeds in the nation.
Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a bill to permit the speed limit on certain new roadways to be set at 85 mph. HB1201 requires the Texas Department of Transportation to perform engineering and traffic studies to determine whether the speed is appropriate on new construction.
The 85-mph authorization is the second speed limit initiative approved by the governor in the past few weeks.
Another new law increases speeds on most rural highways to 75 mph day and night – as long as studies deem it safe. In addition, any speed differential between cars and trucks is eliminated.
Also, the existing 80 mph day-time speed limit for cars on more than 520 miles of interstates 10 and 20 in West Texas will apply to all vehicles throughout the day.
OOIDA leadership says the uniformity of speeds on Texas roads is truckers’ primary concern. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said a policy that allows all vehicles to travel at the same speed is the only policy that makes sense.
A separate provision in the 85-mph speed limit authorization writes the Trans-Texas Corridor out of the books.
The corridor was once championed by Gov. Perry. The proposed 4,000-mile network of toll roads was initially billed as setting the path for a NAFTA superhighway stretching from the Mexican border to Canada.
The multibillion-dollar TTC was debated at the statehouse for most of the past decade until it was declared dead in 2009. However, concern about language still on the books spurred lawmakers to take additional action.
The new law removes any reference to the failed highway project from statute, which brings the state in line with the cancellation of the project.
Even though lawmakers put the headstone on the TTC project, the pursuit of tolling is far from a dead issue in Austin.
Lawmakers and the governor have granted TxDOT, and local tolling authorities, the right to sign public-private partnerships for as many as 10 toll roads.
The so-called comprehensive development agreements include work on a 28-mile segment of Interstate 35 East between Interstate 635 and U.S. 380; a nine-mile portion of state Highway 183 between state Highway 161 and I-35 E; five segments of the North Tarrant Expressway project; and the Grand Parkway, state Highway 99, in Houston.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Texas, click here.
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