BISMARCK – The North Dakota State Senate voted Wednesday to change the speed limit on the state’s interstate highways.
House Bill 1475 would change the speed limit on some portions of North Dakota’s interstates from 75 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour. The bill maintains exceptions in areas the Department of Transportation deems necessary. The Senate Transportation committee gave the bill a unanimous Do Pass recommendation.
“We heard testimony that the NDDOT has done a preliminary engineering review of the interstate for potential geometric design and feature related concerns resulting from an increased speed limit,” said Sen. Bob Paulson, R-Dis. 3, Minot. “They identified areas of little concern, areas where additional analysis is needed, and areas that will likely need a speed limit of less than 80 miles per hour.”
Paulson said six of North Dakota’s neighboring states have speed limits of 80 miles per hour on their interstates. He also said the US Federal Highway Administration, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers all recommend using the rule of 85% to determine speed limits.
“The rule states that if more than 85% of the regular traffic drives above the posted speed limit, then steps should be taken to raise the limit,” said Paulson. “We heard testimony that the 85% speed on our interstates is 82 miles per hour. Why does the 85% rule work? Raising the limit causes slower traffic to move up to the prevailing speed and brings a more uniform traffic flow.”
Paulson said the only opposition testimony was from a national group out of Washington D.C.