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Va. Senate, House move bills raising
speed limit on some roads

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell scored a legislative victory Tuesday as identical bills raising the speed limit on some rural roads from 65 to 70 mph emerged from both the House of Delegates and the state Senate.

McDonnell called for the increase during his campaign for governor and asked the legislature to approve it this year during his first address to a joint session last month. He called the approvals "an important early step" in the goal of improving Virginia's traffic-clogged roads, arguing that raising the limit would speed drivers to their destinations. The bills each would raise the speed limit on U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 58, U.S. Route 360, U.S. Route 460, and on U.S. Route 17, where they are limited-access highways.

-- Rosalind Helderman

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 2, 2010; 3:36 PM ET
Categories:  Congestion , Driving , highways  
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1. reopening the interstate highway rest stops (done)
2. increasing the speed limit to 70MPH on certain interstate highways (done)
3. finding additional new revenues to pay for roads, transit and rail (to be continued, later on this year or maybe next year or the year after that).

Posted by: ehs2002 | February 2, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

The summary in this entry is somewhat misleading. The bill passed by both houses would allow:

(1) 70 mph on all Interstates;
(2) 70 mph on what are often called "Interstate look-alikes" (the statute says "multilane, divided, limited access highways");
(3) 70 mph on barrier-separated HOV lanes;
(4) 60 mph on "U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 58, U.S. Route 360, U.S. Route 460, and on U.S. Route 17 between the town of Port Royal and Saluda where they are nonlimited access, multilane, divided highways." (This is the same as current law.)

What is notable is that the statute doesn't make 70 mph automatic on any road. It would require that traffic engineering studies and analysis of accident data be undertaken first. So it's probably premature to assume that on July 1 we'll see widespread "SPEED LIMIT 70" signs. It's also fair to assume that a lot of roads that SHOULD be posted at 70, such as the Dulles Toll Road, won't be.

Still, it's progress and it's about time they've done this. I wish they had opted for 75 instead, but Virginia moves in baby steps on this sort of thing.

Posted by: 1995hoo | February 2, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

It's good that the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate advanced bills which would raise the speed limit to 70 mph on certain portions of rural roads for McDonnell to sign. Southern and western states are known for having higher speed limits on rural roads than states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but Virginia is going to join the states with higher rural road speed limits.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | February 2, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

As with the 70 mph speed limit on VA I-85, there would be no truck differential, as with the current 65 mph maximum speed limit on other Interstates, cars, trucks and buses would 70.

Posted by: Capital-Beltway | February 2, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

In the Code of Virginia, a "multilane, divided, limited access highway" is not necessarily built to full freeway standards (no at-grade crossings or access). "Limited access" refers to a right-of-way that allows no direct adjacent private access across the right-of-way line. For example, the Fairfax County Parkway is limited access but has a number of at-grade intersections, and is a "multilane, divided, limited access highway"

Posted by: Capital-Beltway | February 2, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Regarding truck differentials, those are generally seen as undesirable because they cause added lane-changing and the like. Speed differentials in general are a bad thing, especially given the way Americans seem to have no concept of lane discipline. The last thing you want is people slaloming in and out of traffic.

Posted by: 1995hoo | February 3, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

"The last thing you want is people slaloming in and out of traffic."

You don't drive around here, do you?

Posted by: member5 | February 4, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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