Utah Raises Speed Limit on Some Urban Freeways

December 8, 2014

Motorists will soon be able to drive a little faster on most urban interstates along Utah’s Wasatch Range.

With a few exceptions, the speed limit will be raised from 65 mph to 70 mph beginning Monday afternoon.

The Utah Department of Transportation decided to proceed with the plan after hearing no arguments urging it to reconsider during a month of taking comments, said Jason Davis, its chief of operations.

Studies show the vast majority of traffic already travels at 70 mph or more on Wasatch Front interstates, he added.

“The vast majority of the comments we have received have been supportive,” Davis said.

Weather permitting, crews hope to change affected speed-limit signs between the morning and evening rush hours Monday from North Ogden to Spanish Fork, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The AAA insurance company and Physicians for a Healthy Utah oppose the increase, saying it could lead to more serious accidents and worse air pollution.

The Utah Highway Patrol also initially opposed the plan, saying it could lead to more speeding and accidents. But it quickly reversed course and said the Department of Transportation has the expertise to set safe speed limits.

Col. Danny Fuhr, superintendent of the highway patrol, has pledged strict enforcement of the higher speed limit. Drivers will get tickets if they travel 75 mph in a 70-mph zone, he said.

Among exceptions to the higher speed limit are portions of Interstate 80 and Interstate 215 in the Salt Lake City area.

Earlier this year, Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law a bill to allow the Department of Transportation to study speeds in Utah’s interstate highway system and raise them where appropriate.

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