More 70 mph highway speeds coming to Wyoming

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/25/2016

Thousands of miles of Wyoming highways will be posted with faster speed limits in the weeks ahead. Gov. Matt Mead has signed into law a bill to authorize truckers and motorists traveling along non-interstate highways to drive 70 mph – up from 65 mph.

The recent action 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 able to handle the higher speed limit.

The one-year-old law requires engineering and traffic studies to be done to determine the safe and reasonable speed on affected highways. The agency has already posted 70 mph speeds along stretches of U.S. 85 between Cheyenne and Newcastle, U.S. 130 from Walcott Junction to Saratoga, and state Highway 120 from north of Cody to the Montana line.

The new law, previously SF72, expedites the process and simply increases 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 new rule will save the state money 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.

WYDOT officials say signs will start going up on affected highways before the end of the month. A total of 1,500 miles of highways are expected to be posted at 70 mph through April, and another 1,000 miles by the end of May. Work is expected to continue through the summer.

In all, 900 new speed limit signs will be posted around the state.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Col. Kevin Haller says that drivers need to be patient while the signage changes are made.

“Drivers are required to adhere to the speed limit posted on any highway section,” Haller said in prepared remarks.

WYDOT Director Bill Panos adds that the agency will be monitoring the 70 mph sections to see whether the increase results in more crashes.

“If we find there has been a significant increase, we will take the actions necessary to protect the safety of the driving public.”

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

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