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Our view: Not all roads will see 70 mph

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Now that we’ve thawed from last week’s deep freeze, Illinois Department of Transportation crews hope to install about 900 new speed limit signs across the state.

That will include the 64 miles of Interstate 88 west of Route 47.

Closer to Chicago, however, the posted speed limit of 55 mph will remain in effect, and remain largely disregarded by drivers.

On Jan. 1, a new law increasing the maximum speed limit on Illinois’ toll roads and interstates to 70 mph went into effect. The delay in posting the signs is because the crews in charge of switching the speed-limit signs were busy with other tasks. IDOT had 1,755 trucks assigned to snow duty statewide and 3,700 full- and part-time employees were available to clear roads.

We supported the idea of increasing the speed limit to 70 mph when the law was first discussed early last year. We still support the increase and are disappointed more Chicago-area roads will not be seeing an increase in the posted speed limit.

Of course, regardless of the posted speed limit, if you aren’t traveling at 70 mph on many of the interstates, you likely are getting passed by vehicles of all sizes.

The speed-limit increase is helpful for businesses, which benefit from having truck drivers arrive earlier to their destinations. Plus, 34 states already have speed limits of 70 mph or faster, including neighboring Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri.

Those trucks will continue to have to slow down when they reach Chicago and its suburbs. Those who drive 70 mph already on those same roads likely will continue doing so – illegally.

State Rep. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, has vowed to fight IDOT over its decision to keep the speed limit on Chicago-area toll roads at 55 mph. He said it’s clear more than 85 percent of motorists on all expressways are traveling 70 mph or faster.

“It’s unacceptable. They’re putting law-abiding citizens into danger,” Oberweis told the Chicago Tribune.

The faster speed limits mean motorists must maintain a high level of alertness. Enjoy your faster toll roads and interstates, but be mindful of when and where it is legal to travel 70 mph.

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