Increases Speed Limits But Not To 70mph.

Get ready to drive a little faster on several stretches of road in your area.

The Illinois Tollway’s customer service and planning committee wants to raise the speed limit from 50 mph to 60 mph for all traffic on I-294 between Touhy Avenue and Deerfield Road. The same committee wants to raise it to 65 mph for cars and buses on I-94 between Deerfield Road and Stearns School Road, up from 55 mph; the proposed increase for trucks on this segment is from 55 to 60 mph.

Actually, a January 1st law had permitted 70mph, but experts from CDM Smith, a consulting, engineering, construction and operations firm, recommended change after evaluating tollway travel three different ways and investigating aspects of the road, such as curves, high crash locations, number of merging points, and congestion hotspots.

Critics insist the proposed speed limit is too low.

Northern Illinois Speed Limits have Lagged Behind the Rest of the State.

Northern Illinois Speed Limits have Lagged Behind the Rest of the State.

Steve Doner, former Illinois Chapter Coordinator for the National Motorists Association, claims that at least three out of five states would post limits between 65 and 75 on the suburban tollways if they were presented with the same data. Thirty four states have urban speed limits of 65 or higher with some as high as 80 mph even in urban areas. He quotes Thad Peterson, former head of Michigan Traffic Services Division, who plummeted traffic accidents to a third of its original rate after raising Michigan speed limits. Thad spent ten years increasing miles from 55 mph to 70 mph and found that drivers not only increased their compliance with the new speed measures but also that the “fatality rate declined strongly statewide.”

People worry that vehicles/drivers will increase travel speeds by the amount of the speed limit increase. The best research solidly refutes this assertion… Travel speeds are made more CONSISTENT across the board, which is why crashes are normally reduced, and the crashes that do occur, do NOT tend to involve higher speeds than they did prior to the speed limit increase. The result is INCREASED SAFETY.

Doner insisted that the CDM Smith study was inefficiently conducted, its results incorrect, and those drivers obeying these new speed limits would only be harming themselves and others. “Most states,” he says, “with the same data would post urban limits of 65 to 75 mph.”

Similar mileage changes are also being proposed for certain segments of the tollway in the Western suburbs.

Meanwhile, the full Illinois Tollway Authority board must still approve the plan. It will vote on the proposal March 26, and, if they, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules approve, new speed limits will be posted in June or July of this year.

Ready to speed? Or want the limits hoisted? What do you think?

Summary
Illinois Tollway Committee recommendations for new tollway speed limits:
Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80):
• I-294 between the I-57 Interchange to the I-55 Interchange – increase from 55 mph to 60 mph for all traffic
• I-294 between Touhy Avenue and Deerfield Road – increase from 55 mph to 60 mph for all traffic
• I-94 between Deerfield Road and Stearns School Road – increase from 55 to 65 mph for cars and buses, 55 to 60 mph for trucks.

Story by:  Leah Zitter, dbfchicago.com Writer