By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Faster travel along six Kansas highways is only a day away.
In an effort to make Kansas more competitive with nearby states, a new law will push speeds on 807 miles of highways around the state from 70 mph to 75 mph. The increase takes effect Friday, July 1.
Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill into law this spring, which gives the Kansas Department of Transportation the go-ahead to increase speeds for all vehicles by 5 mph on rural stretches of divided four-lane highways.
KDOT has since identified portions of highway that will accommodate the higher limit.
Almost all of the Kansas Turnpike will be posted at 75 mph, as will most of interstates 35, 70 and 135; and U.S. highways 69 and 81.
KDOT Spokesman Steve Swartz previously told Land Line the department, as well as the Kansas Highway Patrol and Turnpike, took into consideration many factors. They studied traffic volumes, crash rates and hills and curves on the 1,060 miles of highways eligible.
Rep. Marvin, Kleeb, R-Overland Park, said he believes the higher limit on the six highways is good for the state’s economy and for truckers. He pointed out that 13 western states, including neighboring Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, already have a 75 mph limit.
In advance of the July 1 start date, law enforcement officers in Kansas and Missouri joined forces Friday, June 24, for a one-day “enhanced enforcement period” on I-70. The focus was on seat-belt use, impaired driving, distracted driving, excessive speed and aggressive driving.
“This special enforcement enhances our traffic safety mission, and our goal is to reduce deaths and injuries,” Kansas Highway Patrol Col. Ernest Garcia said in a statement.
The price tag to modify existing signage could be around $20,000. Swartz said that would cover the cost to rivet aluminum sheets with “75” printed on them for more than 500 signs throughout the state.
Swartz said placing sheets on signs instead of replacing the entire sign will save the state money.
KDOT is expected to begin affixing the overlays to the existing signage on Thursday, June 30. However, the department notes it will not be legal to drive 75 mph until the new law takes effect the following day.
The agency is hopeful of completing the sign updates before the start of the holiday weekend.
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