Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.

Lawmakers consider bill to boost Pennsylvania Turnpike speed limit

Highway and Road TransportationTelevision StationsTelevision Industry

A bill to boost the speed limit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is gaining traction.

Some drivers say it's a change that's long overdue, adding it may encourage more people to use the turnpike. However, some drivers have concerns about safety on the roads.

A bill to increase the speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour on the turnpike cleared the House Transportation Committee last week with bipartisan support.

“By offering a higher speed limit to motorists, we are creating further incentive for passenger cars and commercial vehicles to use the turnpike, which also may keep more of these vehicles off of other roads which pass through many of our smaller, residential areas,” wrote Rep. Joseph Preston (D-24th) in a memo before submitting the bill for consideration.

The bill would give the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission the ability to raise the speed limit to 70 mph in areas where it’s deemed safe.

“It might invite more people to use the turnpike, so they could get a little more revenue stream out of it,” says driver Mac Espenshade.

Tom McGrath says he’s a frequent user of the turnpike and often sees people driving in excess of 65 mph.

“I think most people are going to be traveling at that rate of speed anyway, and i think the highway is safe enough,” says McGrath.

But , some drivers think 65 is fast enough. They say there are too many drivers on the road going too fast as it is.

“If the speed limit`s 55, they`re going 65, 75. Not everybody follows the speed limit,” says Betty Gutshall, of Carlisle.

Though her family members disagree with her, Jacqueline St. Rose-McNeal says she shares Gutshall’s concerns.

“And, I`m already terrified of the trucks as it is. And then, that might mean more accidents,” says St. Rose-McNeal.

 According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there was a five-percent increase in crashes on the Ohio turnpike after the speed limit increase from 65 to 70 last year.

In a memo to lawmakers, the patrol said the increase “had significant negative impacts.”

 But in Virginia, which recently boosted speed limits on many interstates to 70, a Richmond television station found crashes actually decreased in most of those locations.

Some drivers say it's still a risk they don't want to take.

“I just think it`s bad, too much road rage and all of that today,” says Betty Rhoades.

Should the bill pass, it also calls for a safety study to be done a year after the speed limit goes up to see what impact there is on safety.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun