TxDOT considering raising North Texas highway speeds

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by LAUREN ZAKALIK

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaalauren

WFAA

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 6:47 PM

DALLAS -- It's been said life moves too fast. That is, unless you get a taste of North Texas traffic.

"Traffic’s so slow, it's like everything is slowed down," said Mesquite driver Lacee Croy.

Well, buckle up. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is considering increasing speed limits on some North Texas highways by five miles an hour.

But don't hit the gas just yet.

"It's not as simple as just doing a speed study, seeing if the speed should be changed, and going out and doing it," said Chris Klaus of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

That's because the main reason for the possible changes is environmental. You may remember back in 2001, speed limits on many local highways, including Loop 820 and Interstate 35, dropped by five miles an hour in hopes of decreasing emissions. Since then, technology has shown slower speeds don't necessarily mean a cleaner environment.

So TxDOT, with the help of the Regional Transportation Countil (RTC), is considering reversing some or all of those 2001 changes.

It's a complicated process that got its first green light Thursday at the RTC meeting. Members unanimously approved a funding shuffling that would help the changes move forward.

Environment may be the driving factor behind these possible changes, but speed is also a consideration. TxDOT spokesman Val Lopez says the organization has already performed traffic studies on the highways in question and said drivers are already driving a bit over the speed limit.

"If we put the speed limit that’s appropriate and reflected by actual traffic, we’ll create a safer driving environment, because everyone will be going the same speed," Lopez said. He also mentioned the organization has been in touch with public safety officials about the possible changes.

The final list of affected highways isn't set as of yet, but Klaus believes this could be wrapped up by the end of the year.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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