GREEN BAY --You may have to forget those 65 mile per hour signs, one area lawmaker wants to see speed limit signs on some highways increase to 70 miles per hour.
But others want to put the brakes on the proposal.
You may have a shorter commute to work if a new bill goes through. At least that's according to Republican State Representative Paul Tittl of Manitowoc.
"Nearly 5% of Wisconsin commuters have a one-way commute of 60 minutes or more," explained Tittl. "This bill will enable them to get home faster so they can spend more time with their families."
The proposal would increase the maximum speed limit on some highways to 70mph.
That includes I-43 from Milwaukee to Green Bay and Highway 41 from Milwaukee to Abrams. Tittl feels the boost would be just as safe as the current limit.
Captain Randy Schultz with the Brown County Sheriff's Department says his worry revolves around certain times of the day.
"Certainly, locationally, it's concerning," Schultz said. "High traffic volume during peak hours of the day, I’d be concerned in those areas, but I was concerned years ago, but then traffic engineers proved me wrong."
Tittl says the DOT will be able to set speed limits on certain roadways if safety concerns arise. Either way, some drivers feel the speed limit should stay as is.
"65 is more safe, it seems plenty because people go 70 to 75 regardless. And then if you increase it to 70, they'll go 75-80, so I think the 65 is fine," said John Tyrrell of Milwaukee.
This isn't the first push to speed up traffic. A proposal in 2005 to increase to 75mph was stalled in the legislature.
Neither Governor Scott Walker nor the Department of Transportation have taken a position on this bill.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos backs the proposal, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says there are no plans to take up the bill, any time soon.
Democratic state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, a member of the Assembly's transportation committee from Appleton, said before the speed limit is raised, current driving safety laws like those requiring seat belts to be worn and banning texting behind the wheel should be enforced more strictly.
"Unless we can really make sure our drivers are driving safely, I think we should slow down on having a higher speed limit," she said.
Illinois was the 35th state to increase speed limits since Congress allowed it in 1995, doing away with widely ignored federal speed limits of 55 mph on most roads and 65 mph on rural roads. The trend has resulted in an increase in road deaths and injuries in those states, according to some studies, including one that found a 9 percent jump in deaths on rural interstates.
The federal speed limit law was passed to reduce fuel consumption after the 1973 oil embargo. Safety advocates lauded it for the subsequent drop in road deaths and injuries.
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