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Transportation secretary: Speed limit hike will boost commerce

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Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton, left, Transportation Secretary and Turnpike Commissioner Barry J. Schoch, center, and Lt. Edward Murphy of Troop T, the unit in charge of turnpike patrols, unveil the new 70 mph sign outside the Turnpike Commission offices in Lower Swatara Township.
Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton, left, Transportation Secretary and Turnpike Commissioner Barry J. Schoch, center, and Lt. Edward Murphy of Troop T, the unit in charge of turnpike patrols, unveil the new 70 mph sign outside the Turnpike Commission offices in Lower Swatara Township. - (Photo / )

Raising the speed limit to 70 mph on Pennsylvania's interstates will give business a boost, state officials said today.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike activated its 70 mph speed limit from Blue Mountain (Interchange 201) to Morgantown (Interchange 298), and PennDOT announced it will launch 70 mph pilot projects on a pair of interstates next month:

• 88 miles of Interstate 80 from Exit 101 (DuBois) in Clearfield County to mile marker 189 in Clinton County; and

• 21 miles of Interstate 380 from Interstate 84 in Lackawanna County to Exit 3 (Pocono Pines/Mt. Pocono) in Monroe County.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said the changes will enhance commerce movement through the state. Many neighboring states already have 70 mph speed limits.

"If you're moving products, you're getting paid based on the time it takes to move products from point A to point B," Schoch said.

The secretary said officials are confident the increased speed limit will not lead to a higher accident rate.

“After thorough analysis and reviewing other states’ practices, PennDOT is piloting this speed limit so we can use the data to determine where else the maximum speed could be increased,” Schoch said. “Safety is our top priority in this process, and I urge drivers to obey the speed limit whether they’re in their neighborhood or on an interstate.”

PennDOT will use data collected from the pilot locations while evaluating other 65 mph roadway sections for potential 70 mph implementation in the spring or summer next year. Roadway sections that can safely accommodate the increased speed could start being signed soon after the evaluations are complete.

Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said the turnpike’s 70 mph speed limit could be implemented on remaining portions of the 550-plus-mile toll road system in 2015.

“This initial 70-mph zone will be monitored for six to eight months to see how the higher speed limit works,” Compton said. “If everything goes well, I’d expect the remainder of the turnpike will switch over to 70 mph speed where appropriate and safe next spring.”

While much of the 100-mile stretch will be posted at 70 mph, there will be areas where drivers will see reduced speeds, specifically at curves posted at advisory speeds between 60-65 mph. In addition, work zones in the 70 mph zone will be posted at 55 mph — meaning an end to 40 mph work-zone speeds in this section.

John Hilton

John Hilton

John Hilton covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at johnh@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JHilton32. Circle John Hilton on .

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Louis Ford July 26, 2014 10:31 pm

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.jsp

While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.

You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.25 per gallon for gas.

Observing the speed limit is also safer.

So you can burn your earnings in the gas tank, or slow down and spend that saved money on something else.

Pam Grove July 24, 2014 11:18 am

Will surely boost the undertaker's business!

Ray Branas July 24, 2014 8:52 am

So the turnpike speed will effectively become 75 MPH or more. I don't travel the turnpike that much, but is the road in shape to handle the speed?

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