Wyoming Legislature authorizes 70 mph highway speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/9/2016

Hundreds of miles of Wyoming highways could soon be posted with faster speed limits.

The Wyoming Senate has voted 26-4 to endorse changes to a bill that would authorize truckers and motorists traveling along certain state highways to drive 70 mph – up from 65 mph. Approval of changes clear the way for the bill to move to Gov. Matt Mead’s desk. House lawmakers already approved the bill on a 41-16 vote.

The bill, SF72, follows a 2015 law permitting the state Department of Transportation to raise the speed from 65 mph to 70 mph on portions of state highways that are deemed to be able to handle the higher speed limit.

The one-year-old law required engineering and traffic studies to be done to determine the safe and reasonable speed on affected highways. Following the studies, the agency posted 70 mph speeds along stretches of U.S. 85 north of Cheyenne, state Highway 130 from Interstate 80 south to Saratoga, and state Highway 120 from north of Cody to the Montana line.

Additional studies of 1,300 miles of highways deemed by WYDOT as the best candidates for higher limits are ongoing.

SF72 would expedite the process and simply increase vehicle speeds by 5 mph on two-lane paved state highways unless the department determines the speed bump is a safety risk.

Advocates say the bill from Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, would save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars by cutting out the need for some studies.

According to a state analysis, the cost to perform the required studies and data collection in the 2015 law is estimated at $1.7 million.

The changes would take effect as soon as WYDOT can update the posted speeds.

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

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