Texas Best Lobbyist News: Texas Opening Fastest Highway in America with 85 Mph Speed Limit
The following article is a digest of a publication found at NPR.org. The Texas Lobby Group is publishing this digest as a public service for Texas citizens, Texas politicians and political analysts, other Texas lobbyists, and all other interested parties.
Texas is planning to open a highway with the fastest speed limit in the country, set at 85 miles per hour. The Texas Transportation Commission has given the green light to a new 41 mile toll road linking Austin and Seguin. Interstate 35 is notorious for it’s traffic jams. This new toll road will help ease up on that and allow for another option when traveling between cities. Many frequently make the commute between cities, and are quite excited at the prospect of a higher speed limit and divvying up the traffic. At the same time, there are many people who are concerned by what this means in regards to road safety.
It is well known that higher speed limits are directly correlated to more deaths, injuries, and accidents on the road. The only real upside here is that higher speed limits means faster arrivals for drivers, and perhaps less traffic jams. The American Journal of Public Health took a look at fatal car accidents in 2009, and found that over 12,500 deaths could be accounted for by a raise in speed limits. Without providing specific numbers, there appears to be a 9.1 increase in traffic fatalities on rural highways when the speed limit experiences an increase.
Toll prices have not been set. “The state contract with the toll operator allows the state to collect a $67 million upfront cash payment or a percentage of the toll profits in the future if the speed limit is 80 mph or lower. At 85 mph, the cash payment balloons to $100 million or a higher percentage of toll revenues. Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Veronica Beyer says “we must continue to look for innovative ways to generate revenue and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Opening in November, this highway is heavily anticipated as an alternative route with less traffic. As a toll road, it is projected that may will forgo the new route due to it’s toll status, further allowing for smoother traffic flow. Safety has been cited as the top priority, and the road’s topography is being thoroughly looked at in order to create safe cross sections and access points. These will be looked at before officially giving the toll an 85 mph limit, although that appears to be the current trajectory.