On Tuesday, the state House passed legislation 115-5 to give the three-member, elected Transportation Commission the authority to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
“The commission would have to take a look at it with its engineers to determine the safety of going from 70 to 75,” said Rep. Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, author of the legislation. “Some areas might stay 70.”
Stringer said federal law no longer withholds federal funds from a state for increasing the speed limit above 70. He said 16 states have already have increased the speed limit with Texas increasing it to 85 miles per hour in some areas.
“Time is money and people want to get there in time,” said Stringer. “It would cut down on the number of hours of travel.”
Stringer said Louisiana is in the process of increasing its speed limit and Alabama also might consider the change. He said potentially drivers could motor through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama at a higher rate of speed.
Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said if the legislation becomes law, he would rely on the commission’s safety engineers to determine the stretches of highway where the speed limit could be raised.
“Plus, quite frankly I also would want to get input from law enforcement on safety issues,” he said.
The bill refers to interstate and controlled access highways as having the potential for the speed limit increase.