Idaho's faster speeds, continued differential in effect July 24

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Speed limits on some stretches of Idaho interstates are set to increase by 5 mph on Thursday, July 24.

Idaho law authorizes motorists to travel 75 mph on rural interstates. In 1998, large truck speeds were dropped from 75 mph to 65 mph. Speeds are 65 mph for all vehicles on state highways.

A bill signed into law in March by Gov. Butch Otter permitted the Idaho Transportation Department to study stretches of roadway that would accommodate 80 mph speeds for cars and 70 mph speeds for trucks.

After transportation officials completed the review of speed studies, crash analysis and engineering review, a July 1 start date was set to authorize faster travel on most of Interstates 15, 84 and 86.

However, the switchover was delayed to allow the state’s Transportation Board to review the changes. Findings were presented July 11 at a board meeting in Coeur d’Alene.

The board voted unanimously at the meeting to endorse the new speeds and after a three-week delay, the speed changes are set to take effect this week.

“The board considered all of the comments received, reviewed the engineering study, discussed concerns and concurred with the ITD recommendation,” stated ITD chief of operations officer Jim Carpenter.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to speed differentials. Association officials say the only speed limit policy that makes sense is to have all vehicles traveling at or near the same speed to minimize interaction between vehicles.

The speed limit in the urban areas of the Treasure Valley, between Caldwell and east Boise, as well as through Pocatello and Idaho Falls, will remain at 65 mph for all vehicles.

The department continues to study I-90 in northern Idaho for potential increases.

The law also allows the ITD to boost speeds on state highways for all vehicles to 70 mph. Changes on affected roadways will happen at later dates as speed studies are completed.

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