East Texas -- Good news travels fast, and motorists on Interstate highways around the state will soon be traveling even faster.
At its regular monthly meeting today, the Texas Transportation Commission, the Texas Department of Transportation's governing body, approved raising the speed limit from 70 to 75 mph on more than 1,500 miles of Interstate highways across the state, including more than 120 miles of Interstate 20 in East Texas.
The speed limit on Interstate 20 will be raised to 75 mph between the Kaufman/Van Zandt county line and the Louisiana border, spanning the counties of Van Zandt, Smith, Gregg and Harrison. The new speed limits will not take effect until the speed limit signs are changed out in the next 60-90 days.
"The new, higher speed limit doesn't take effect until the new signs are up," said TxDOT public information officer Larry Krantz. "That's important to note. Until those signs are changed out, the posted 70 mph speed limit is still in effect. Hopefully the new signs will be in place by May 1."
The speed limit changes span 60 Texas counties in all, making it the largest conversion since a new law was passed last year. The 82nd Texas Legislature passed and the Governor signed House Bill 1353 which allows the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to establish 75 mph speed limits on Texas highways providing speed studies show it can be done safely.
Since September, the agency has been reviewing existing 70 mph speed limits across the state to determine where a 75 mph limit may be safely posted. Four Central Texas highways were the first to see higher speeds after the new law took effect.
Today's Commission action brings the number of miles now zoned at 75 mph as a result of House Bill (HB) 1353 to 1,618.
TxDOT studies of speeds on U.S. highways, state highways, farm-to-market and ranch-to-market roads are still under way.
Prior to HB 1353, Texas had 1,445 miles of 75 mph speed limits and 521 miles of 80 mph speed limits on certain state highways. These speed limits were previously restricted to specific rural counties and highways located mostly in West Texas. Texas now has almost 3,600 miles zoned at 75 mph or higher.
Today's commission action also approved 75 mph speed limits on:
● I-10—289 miles across El Paso, Gillespie, Kerr, Kendall, Bexar, Guadalupe, Caldwell, Gonzales, Fayette, Colorado, Austin, Jefferson and Orange counties
● I-20—423 miles across Crane, Ector, Midland, Martin, Howard, Mitchell, Nolan, Taylor, Callahan, Eastland, Erath and Palo Pinto counties
● I-27—109 miles across Lubbock, Hale, Swisher and Randall counties
● I-30—139 miles across Hunt, Hopkins, Franklin, Titus, Morris and Bowie counties
● I-35—106 miles across Webb, Medina, Atascosa, Bexar, Hill and Cooke counties
● I-37—130 miles across Nueces, San Patricio, Live Oak, Atascosa and Bexar counties
● I-40—166 miles across Deaf Smith, Oldham, Potter, Carson, Gray, Donley and Wheeler counties
● I-44—11 miles across Wichita County
● I-45—143 miles across Walker, Madison, Leon, Freestone and Navarro counties
HB 1353 also eliminated night time speed limits and truck speed limits when it took effect in September 2011.