Maine soon to claim highest speed east of the Mississippi

| 7/11/2011

All vehicles traveling along Interstate 95 in rural Maine could soon be authorized to travel faster.

Gov. Paul LePage signed into law a bill to open the possibility that the speed limit be increased from 65 mph to 75 mph along the northernmost stretch of interstate. The change would give Maine the distinction as having the highest speed limit east of the Mississippi River.

Previously LD1557, the new law gives the Maine Department of Transportation authority to increase speeds along 91 miles of highway that links Old Town and Houlton. On stretches of the highway where higher speeds could pose a danger, the transportation commissioner could decide to keep speeds posted at 65 mph.

Rep. Alexander Willette, R-Mapleton, said a Maine Department of Transportation study showed that 85 percent of the vehicles traveling along the affected stretch of I-95 were already averaging around 75 mph.

“When they studied it, people are already traveling 74-75 mph. They are basically making it legal for all those folks who are already speeding,” Willette previously told Land Line.

Willette said the change would also facilitate the flow of goods moving north and south in the state.

“It helps people get from point A to point B a little bit faster,” he said.

According to a fiscal note on the bill, the state’s general fund would lose out on about $100,000 in revenue from speeding tickets each fiscal year.

The earliest that drivers could see 75 mph speeds posted on the affected highway is the end of September.

Another bill signed by the governor puts state law into adherence with a federal truck rule. LD966 makes it a crime in Maine for a person with methadone in their system to drive a commercial vehicle at least 10,000 pounds.

Violators would face up to six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

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

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