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Oregon state Senators want to raise highway speed limit

Posted by on May 13th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

“Oregon is the odd one out when it comes to the nation’s speed limits. By modernizing our speed limit we can increase the flow of traffic, lower commute times and fast track commerce through the state.”
— Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro)

Saying that Oregon’s speed limit is “behind the times,” state Senators Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) and Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) are working to raise speeds limits on highways and interstates to 75 miles per hour. The senators say they’ll look to amend House Bill 3150, the “neighborhood greenway bill” which was introduced to lower speed limits on certain residential streets by five miles per hour (down to 20 mph).

HB 3150 passed the House back in March by a vote of 45-14.

In a statement released today, Sen. Atkinson said,

“Oregon is the only state west of the Mississippi with highway and interstate speed limits less than 70 miles per hour. People have to play by different rules along I-5 and in rural areas when they travel from state to state. Business and commerce suffer as a result.”

Atkinson and Starr say they plan to amend HB 3150 to include a 75 mph speed limit on highways and interstates (it’s currently 65) for cars and 60 mph for commercial vehicles and semis (up from 55 mph).

For Starr, the higher speed is a matter of keeping up with the times: “By modernizing our speed limit we can increase the flow of traffic, lower commute times and fast track commerce through the state.”

The Oregonian reported yesterday that Atkinson and Starr have their work cut out for them in getting this passed.

Governor Kitzhaber has vetoed bills to raise the speed limit when it came before him in past sessions and he remains opposed to the idea. Gail Actherman, Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, which sets policy for ODOT) also had some very direct words about the idea in The Oregonian:

“Frankly, voting to raise the speed limit is voting to kill people and it is voting to maim people for life.”

In 2004, the state pulled together an Oregon Speed Zone Review Panel to draft a report to the OTC reviewing a speed limit increase to 70 mph. The panel was unanimous in their decision to retain the existing 65 mph limit, primarily due to safety concerns. “The Panel believes that the safety and environmental benefits for keeping the 65 mph speed limit outweigh the travel time benefits of a 70 mph speed limit.”

In 2004, public comments received by the panel showed Oregonians were nearly evenly split for/against the idea. (Download the report here, PDF).

Looking at ODOT’s traffic crash data, “driving too fast for conditions” is listed as one of the “most common driver errors” year after every year. Speeding — especially on rural highways — consistently amounts for about half of all fatal and serious injury crashes in Oregon annually.

When I asked ODOT’s Traffic Safety Division Manager Troy Costales. He said the biggest problem he faces is that he basic speed law on rural highways (which have “the worst safety record”) isn’t strong enough.

It’s not yet clear how this proposed amendment might impact HB 3150. Also, if it’s clear that the Governor and the OTC are against higher speed limits, are these two legislators simply trying to drop this in as a poison pill to kill HB 3150? We hope to find out more next week.

As it stands (without the 75 mph speed limit provision), HB 3150 is awaiting a work session and possible vote in the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee.

Stay tuned for developments.

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Comments
  • q`Tzal May 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Oregon State speed limits are behind the times:
    They need to be lower.

    With the increase in density making fast driving more of a public risk and the price of oil driving up the real societal costs of fast driving it is the the economic and health/safety interest of all Oregonians for speed limits to be lowered, not raised.

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    • middle of the road guy May 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      By that logic, let’s make them all zero mph.

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      • Mike Fish May 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

        You need to change your name!

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  • Eric May 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Also, higher speeds means higher gas consumption. That was the main reason Carter lowered the speed limit to 55.

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    • middle of the road guy May 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      The CAFE standards are higher now.

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      • Brian May 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

        So? Consumption will still be higher.

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        • Kristen May 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

          Maybe our state politicians are trying to get more money out of their constituents– higher consumption means more money in fuel tax.

          Cars get worse gas mileage the faster they are driven. You can get awesome gas mileage in the 55-65 range, not too shabby in the 65-70 range, and not great above 70.

          So if you have a 5-speed manual, you’ll be driving along at 75mph, approx 3500+ rpm. Get a 6-speed, it’s a bit better– closer to that magic 2500 rpm number automotive experts claim is the sweet spot for good gas mileage.

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          • 9watts February 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm

            “closer to that magic 2500 rpm number automotive experts claim is the sweet spot for good gas mileage.”

            Not sure where you’re getting your info, Kristen, but the best mileage-speed historically has been around 35 or 40mph, and the most fuel miserly rpm range is nowhere near 2500.

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    • Drew May 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Actually it was Nixon who proposed and signed it into law.

      Bob_M
      ‘If this is the bargain being discussed, it is of course only for rural freeways. For Bike Portland I see this as a non-issue.’

      The proposal is not just for freeways but also rural highways most of which are open to bikes.

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    • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      Any reasonably aerodynamic car built since the end of the national speed limit tends to get better mileage at 70-75 than at 55-60. This is definitely true for my 1999 Malibu, as I discovered when the speed limit on 26 dropped from 75 to 55 and never went back up…

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      • dwainedibbly May 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm

        I call shenanigans on this one. Facts, please. One anecdote does not prove anything and physics is soundly against you.

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        • MIddle of the Road Guy May 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm

          Try biking with your brakes on. Air friction = brake

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      • Greg May 13, 2011 at 8:03 pm

        That’s pretty funny.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_(physics)#Power

        “Note that the power needed to push an object through a fluid increases as the cube of the velocity. A car cruising on a highway at 50 mph (80 km/h) may require only 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) to overcome air drag, but that same car at 100 mph (160 km/h) requires 80 hp (60 kW).”

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      • Tracy May 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

        Garbage.

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      • Mike Fish May 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm

        “Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.”
        From: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt064.shtm

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      • Brian May 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

        Drag is basically a square of velocity times the serface area. And basically an ICE consumes more fuel at higher rpms. So from a physics perspective I’m not buying your statement.

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    • 9watts May 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm

      It was Nixon

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  • Spiffy May 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    sounds more like a ploy to kill HB 3150 than a real effort to raise the sp4eed limit… they know it will get a veto so they lump it in with something they don’t like…

    and states with higher traffic fatality rates have 75 mph speed limits…

    doesn’t sound like a good idea to me…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      That’s exactly what I was thinking too spiffy.. I think they call these “poison pills” in politi-speak.

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      • John Lascurettes May 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm

        Was going to post “Poison Pill” halfway through this story until I saw you already had.

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      • are May 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm

        i don’t see how this could be added to hb 3150 without violating the single subject restriction in article iv, section 20 of the state constitution.

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    • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Chlorine for the gene pool.

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  • K'Tesh May 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    This is a bad idea… Kill the Bill before it kills someone

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    • John Lascurettes May 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      Kill the bill and we also kill the neighborhood greenway bill.

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      • dwainedibbly May 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

        Kill the amendment.

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        • q`Tzal May 15, 2011 at 9:21 am

          Kill ALL amendments

          I’m sure there is some “efficiency in law making” argument for not having to vote on every issue separately.
          Problem is that we’ve reached the point where so much time is spent on strategic amendment placement that few useful laws are actually passed.

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          • wsbob May 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

            Amending bills can make sense, because writing good law involves a gradual process of discussion, review and fine tuning (the Oregon Legislature website has a really good FAQ page that explains about this: http://www.leg.state.or.us/faq/ ).

            What Starr and Atkinson would seek to do, is something entirely different than writing good law. Drawing conclusions from comments of his that have been reported in this bikeportland story, for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, what Starr seems to want to do is jam into HB 3150, a change that is completely out of character with the spirit of that bill.

            As I understand it from stories here at bikeportland and in the Oregonian, HB 3150 was specifically created to enable cities and towns some independence in reducing speed limits through their neighborhoods, restoring some of the safety and quality of life to those neighborhoods. Safety and quality of life on neighborhood streets has been diminished somewhat by the state’s unwitting manner of regarding almost all streets and roads as ‘highways’, with speed limits that apply accordingly.

            Starr wants to divert from the objective this bill is intended to achieve, and piggyback on it to address an completely different type of road type (Freeways).

            I figure the reason Starr and Atkinson are taking this tack, is that it’s a way for them to try show other legislators that they have ‘muscle’, or leverage. Might sound sort of cynical to mention it, but for Oregon, this seems too much like Washington ‘Big Boy’ politic games.

            If Starr wants to discuss bumping up the freeway speed limit to 75mph…fine; let him assemble his own bill for that purpose. Please though, don’t go spoiling a good spirited quality of life neighborhood oriented bill by flexing your muscle to try tack on to it, higher speeds for freeways.

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  • Chris I May 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Aside from the obvious safety risks, and the ludicrous statement about commerce, I would argue that Oregon is AHEAD of the times with regards to speed limits:

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drivehabits.shtml

    Fuel economy drops of steeply above 60mph. A lower speed limit is good energy policy.

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  • Bob_M May 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    In true political fashion the higher speed proponents are horse trading with the lower speed proponents. Higher speeds may not increase fuel consumption and associated pollution, and it may not result in deadlier crashes becaus cars already travel this speed.

    If this is the bargain being discussed, it is of course only for rural freeways. For Bike Portland I see this as a non-issue.

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    • was carless May 14, 2011 at 12:44 am

      People today may drive 70, but once the speed limit is raised to 75, everyone will be driving 80-90. The rule of the road is typically 5-10 mph over and you won’t get a speeding ticket.

      However, I grew up in rural Oregon, and so many are killed each year on the rural highways, I am very against this. I personally know 6 people from high school who were seriously injured or killed on rural Oregon highways. Oregon roads are dark, twisty and slick for much of the year, unlike other states.

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      • Paul Johnson May 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm

        Someone’s never driven in the Ozarks. They make 26 between Boise and John Day look straight and well lit. Speed limit? 75. That doesn’t mean folks actually drive that fast 90% of the time, though.

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    • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Bob, some of us who live in Portland ride in places like Forest Grove, Estacada, and Mollala. Some of us even ride out to the coast on Highway 6. This definitely affects Bike Portland readers.

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  • Psyfalcon May 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I don’t have a problem with BP covering this, it could be a poison pill, but I do have a problem with mindlessly repeating SPEED KILLS.

    “Too fast for conditions” can apply to rain, darkness, snow, ice, or thick traffic. If the condition is so that 65 was too fast, no body should be doing 75.

    I 84 through eastern Oregon isn’t the rural highways discussed with “…especially on rural highways — consistently amounts for about half of all fatal and serious injury crashes in Oregon annually.” You have 26, 20, 395 where this would be entirely inappropriate but I don’t see the problem with matching Idaho’s speed limits.

    You could even run a campaign re-educating people to the speed limit being the LIMIT, and not an arbitrary number to be exceeded in the snow.

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    • Bjorn May 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Many legislators who were opposed to Idaho Style stop sign laws gave as their reason that just because something works in Idaho doesn’t mean it will work here, our state is just too different. To be fair though Senator Atkinson has been consistent on these issues and also supported Idaho Style.

      They probably don’t have a lot of options on where to stick this so late in the session, since things have to be attached to similar bills that are still alive at this point. Jonathan do you know if anyone proposed this as a standalone bill earlier in the session? It certainly isn’t the first time rural senators have pushed for higher speed limits.

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      • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

        The difference in this case is that we’re saying that what works for 95% of the country doesn’t work for Oregon at this point.

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        • Mike Fish May 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm

          How does 35,000 road deaths a year “work?”

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          • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 12:11 am

            That has less to do with speed and more to do with licensing standards. Remember, most collissions happen within a few miles of one or both drivers, usually on surface streets, not freeways. Nice strawman, though.

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    • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Kansas does fine with highways such as 395 and 97 having speed limits of 75 MPH, and it’s a smaller, more densely populated state than Oregon is if you exclude the Willamette Valley.

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    • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Except that speed *does* kill – it’s been proven in multiple studies. A cyclist hit at 20 mph has an 80% chance of surviving the experience. A cyclist hit at 40 mph has roughly a 20% chance of surviving the impact. It’s been for car occupants due to the enclosed compartment, restraint systems and airbags, but impact energy increases with the SQUARE of velocity, so a 10mph increase has a disproportionate effect.

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      • MIddle of the Road Guy May 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm

        So what is the difference between 55mph and 75mph?

        It probably doesn’t matter much past a certain speed.

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        • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 10:41 am

          75 has almost twice the impact energy of 55 (1.83x) – all other things being equal, it’s twice as damaging. (although things aren’t equal, since stopping distance is much greater and reaction time is shorter)

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    • Kristen May 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      “You could even run a campaign re-educating people to the speed limit being the LIMIT”

      AMEN. The speed limit is the MAXIMUM you can drive on a given road, under perfect driving conditions.

      It is not the MINIMUM you should be driving. A lot of people don’t understand that.

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      • spare_wheel February 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

        most understand this just fine — they simply choose to be scofflaws.

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  • TheCowabungaDude May 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    But everybody…it is hindering business and commerce. If you can go faster on the highway, then that brings the dollars faster, see…
    Since when has 5mph in a commute effected people’s decision to move a business somewhere? If exurbs exist then these representative’s arguments don’t.

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    • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      I don’t think a higher speed limit would decrease commute times, but it would make a difference for commercial drivers if we’d get rid of the dangerous split speed limits…

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      • Chris I May 14, 2011 at 7:33 am

        You are arguing that raising the speed limit for trucks to 65 will be safer? Are you kidding?

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        • Paul Johnson May 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm

          I’m arguing that getting rid of the split speed limit based on how the vehicle is registered will be safer. Keep in mind that there are many RVs on Oregon’s highways these days that weigh more than 26000 pounds but aren’t subject to CDL rules that would require them to operate at the lower TRUCKS limit already. Why punish the professional driver who has had more training and has a better understanding of what their vehicle is capable of negotiating safely than most of the four-wheelers and RV drivers on the road by limiting how much money they can make in a day?

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          • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:34 am

            The solution isn’t re-degulating trucks, the solution is regulating the RVs – they should be a separate, restricted class with increased licensing.

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      • spare_wheel February 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

        i’m 100% in favor of anything that makes long distance trucking more expensive. it’s a highly subsidized and inefficient industry that needs to die soon.

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        • Paul Johnson February 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm

          Better get cracking on building your state’s railroads, then.

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          • spare_wheel February 5, 2014 at 7:55 am

            they are underutilized…as would be expected when the state chooses to provide enormous subsidies to another industry.

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            • Paul Johnson February 5, 2014 at 8:30 am

              They also don’t connect to the coast except Astoria anymore (as far as I’m aware, Port of Tillamook is stranded by rail now as nobody’s bothered to rebuild that line after it washed out years ago, kind of indicating Oregon doesn’t have a vested interest in maintaining rail anymore than it is in road), and the vast majority of towns in Oregon have no rails at all. Also going to have to ignore the specious argument that common basic transportation infrastructure in rural communities counts as a subsidy.

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              • MaxD February 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

                I think there is still aline from Eugene to Florence and south to Coos bay that runs 1X daily in each direction

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  • Andrew Seger May 13, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I actually think this is a great idea. Part of the problem with our traffic laws is that people driving cars repeatedly break the speed limit, thereby engendering a disrespect for speed limits and other traffic laws. If we recognized reality in our speeding laws we can actually have police enforce realistic traffic laws. I’d love to see this as a bill coupled with an idaho stop sign change for bikes. Perhaps then it would actually be politically palatable. Like Hans Monderman said, you need good highways to complement cities.

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    • Alexis May 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      As someone who grew up in a state with a 75mph speed limit, I have firsthand experience that people will NOT suddenly start obeying speed limits when they get higher. Instead, they just drive another 5-10 mph over the limit, knowing that they are unlikely to be pulled over at that threshold.

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      • John Lascurettes May 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm

        I concur. I watched this phenomenon growing up in in CA as the speed limit was first raised to 60, then 65 and finally 70. Each time, folk figure they have a 10mph threshold to go over the speed limit – despite threats from CHP that they’d crack down on it.

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        • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

          I always found that amusing, when in reality it’s more like 10%, and even then that’s mostly as insurance that a ticket will actually stick and not be dismissed as “Well, the speedometer was wrong so he didn’t know he was actually speeding.”

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    • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      I’m not sure Idaho stop is such a great idea, but I would like the Oklahoma Red Light law here: Motorcycles and bicycles may treat a solid red light the same as a stop sign.

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  • mmann May 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Let’s keep Oregon progressive instead of “everybody else is doing it.”
    – Higher speed kills more people
    – Higher speed is less fuel efficient

    And how, exactly, is our speed limit hurting commerce? Does anyone seriously believe increasing the speed limit will improve flow where traffic jams occur? Seriously? Someone explain the logic to me – I’m not getting it.

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    • Steve B May 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Well said! Let’s dare to be different on this one, shall we?

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    • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

      There’s progressive, then there’s just being different for the sake of saying, “Hey, look how backwards we are! We kept lower speed limits despite evolved automotive design and instead of addressing licensing standards! And we’re doing it to be GREEEN!” Yeah, this kind of logic is what makes Oregon look stupid.

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      • 9watts February 4, 2014 at 9:37 pm

        sticking with 65 is backwards and acquiescing to widespread disregard for speed limits by upping the limit… is forward looking?? Whoa. Weird planet, dude.

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  • Bob_M May 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    If this occurs, the posted limits will move to 75 only restricted access freeways that are not in urban areas. Not 2 lane highways. I will buy a round of beers if events turn out otherwise. (PBR)

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  • JJJ May 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I see absolutely no problem with having the I-5 speed limit be 70 or 75mph.

    The road is engineered to be exactly the same as I-5 in other states. So the speed limit should be the same. 70mph and 75mph are perfectly safe for 100% grade separated interstate freeways.

    And of course, it has absolutely no impact on bikes.

    In fact, a higher speed limit may encourage more cars off local roads.

    Example:
    Highway, 65mph
    Local road 55mph.

    Not much different.

    If it’s
    Highway 75mpg
    Local road 35mph
    Then drivers who want to go fast will go onto the freeway, and not the local roads.

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    • was carless May 14, 2011 at 12:50 am

      Are you kidding? I5 is very congested these days, with closely spaced exits between Salem and Washington. The terwilliger curves in particular are 50 mph,as well as through the central city. Many Oregon drivers are also notoriously bad at merging.

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      • Psyfalcon May 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm

        There is a lot more to I5 than Salem to Wa. The curves would likely stay the same speed because design constraints + volume mean it needs to go slower there.

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    • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:38 am

      That’s fine if there are local roads for cyclists – but this impacts RURAL Oregon, not urban Oregon. In many cases, the shoulders of limited access highways are the ONLY route. (I-84 in portions of the Columbia River Gorge, for example) This impacts cyclists specifically in cases where there is no alternative. These roads are already unpleasant enough. Also, a 75mph speed limit means many drivers will go 85 – it’s happened in Virginia, in Michigan, and other states – people routinely drive 10 over the limit – and since we’re talking rural areas, there is little or no enforcement to encourage speed reduction.

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      • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm

        Kansas is a surprisingly popular tourist destination for bicycling. Cyclists and 75 MPH traffic routinely share pavement on two lane roads. The difference is Kansas builds broad shoulders as the norm so cyclists have plenty of room to the right of the rumble strip free of debris and far from faster traffic.

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        • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

          Which is why the situations aren’t equal – Oregon typically has narrow shoulders on most rural roads, and no budget to rectify that situation. If Oregon wants to build wide shoulders on all roads before raising the speed limit, then I’d be less inclined to oppose it.

          As for Kansas, I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve ridden those roads in late July. Kansas is also flatter than Oregon, with arrow-straight roads. I’ll bet they also have drainage ditches on both sides, which means visibility is far greater than in Oregon – another reason why IMO Oregon should maintain the 65mph limit (or decrease it back to 55) rather than raising it to 75.

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          • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

            Oregon also doesn’t toll the most expensive to maintain roads, which is a big problem. I can’t see much reason why 217, Sunset Highway, and the entire Oregon segments of 5, 205 and 84 aren’t tolled, political opposition be damned.

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    • Mike Fish May 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      Bad logic. Currently the speed limit on 1-5 through Portland (where most people ride their bikes) is 50. Can cars usually go 50? No! Why? Congestion! So raising the speed limit to 70-75 through the city would tempt fast drivers to the freeway. I’m not saying go ahead and raise the speed limit because it doesn’t matter, I’m just pointing out some bad logic.

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      • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

        Actually cars usually *can* go 50 – there are 24 hours in the day, and congestion affects less than 6 hours of that time. Granted, it’s high volume time, so the time spent at 35-50 is probably close to 40%-50% of all trips. It depends on whether you consider “usually” to be the majority (51%) or some higher percentage.

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        • Mike Fish May 17, 2011 at 12:40 am

          Well if I5 speed limits were raised to 70-75 it would probably still stay the same in the city limits anyway.

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    • spare_wheel February 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      35???

      How about 20.

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  • Paulie May 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Gov. Kitz is a former emergency room doc, so he’s seen his share of mangled victims. I think he’ll veto the bill, sinking the lowered speed limits in cities along with it.

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  • Rol May 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    They can do whatever they want… if no one can afford gas, the speed limit’s 0.

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    • Chris I May 14, 2011 at 7:36 am

      I think we’ve already observed that people buy gas anyway. They just start cutting back elsewhere and hurting our economy.

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  • jered May 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    People in this state can hardly get their vehicles up to the current highway speed limit. They have no lane discipline, no use of turn signals, merging is like quantum physics. 75 mph on major highways – yes please and I’ll give everyone a lesson in how to move to the right after you’ve passed someone.

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    • Paul Johnson May 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm

      Yeah, Oregon’s also one of the few states that doesn’t have mandatory driver testing for people moving from other states. And it’s also one of the hardest to lose your license in.

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      • Psyfalcon May 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

        Thats not true for any state I’ve heard of. A valid drivers license from another state waives the road test.

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  • Rebecca May 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    *&$%^@# aarrggghhh!!!! They’re condemning my favorite bill to death by bad company. These are two totally separate issues and should be presented as separate bills.

    Can these two senators make this amendment independently, or does the amendment have to meet with the approval of the rest of the senate before it becomes a part of the bill?

    Basically, I want to know if my senators can have any influence here. If they can, well, let the inundation of letters and e-mails begin.

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  • 9watts May 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    When we look back and laugh (or groan) at the stupid things our elected officials proposed, this will make the cut. In 1974 when the US federal government instituted a 55 mph national limit it was not about safety but fuel consumption.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Maximum_Speed_Law
    Not that we haven’t had a long string of efforts to undermine the law that pander to people’s impatience, sense of entitlement, or ignorance of the relationship between fuel consumption and speed.

    In 1970 the US imported 3.4 million barrels of petroleum per day; in 2006 we imported 13.6 million barrels per day. Whoopee! Lets all drive faster, and burn up all that foreign oil more rapidly so no one else can have it!
    Fifty-four of the world’s sixty-five largest oil producing nations have already peaked and are now declining, including the USA in 1970, Indonesia in 1997, Australia in 2000, the UK in 1999, Norway in 2001, and Mexico in 2004.
    http://www.energybulletin.net/primer.php

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  • 9watts May 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Paul Johnson
    Kansas does fine with highways such as 395 and 97 having speed limits of 75 MPH, and it’s a smaller, more densely populated state than Oregon is if you exclude the Willamette Valley.

    Can you explain ‘doing fine’? How is burning up gasoline faster, driving in ways that consume more fuel per mile, ‘fine’? Fine for whom?

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    • Aaron May 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      Not all vehicles are most efficient at 55. This is a function of transmissions and aerodynamics, and many newer cars are actually less efficient at current speed limits.

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      • was carless May 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

        Frankly, you have no idea what you are talking about. Go back to the bike threads, please. Or take some physics classes.

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      • Chris I May 14, 2011 at 7:39 am

        I’m not aware of any sub $50,000 cars that are optimized for anything over 65mph. I think you’re going to have to show us an example.

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        • marshmallow May 14, 2011 at 11:18 am

          Gearing. Some cars today are equipped with a 6th gear that makes the engine run at a very low rpm with a much lower air/fuel ratio. It’s just a cruising gear for efficiency and not meant to climb hills or accelerate. Vehicle computers are much more sophisticated with more sensors to optimize fuel efficiency in a wider range of parameters at faster sampling rates. My Bosch engine management book is right here next to me.

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          • marshmallow May 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

            And don’t forget drag coefficients for modern day cars, which are better. One of the most aerodynamic, if not the most, is the Prius. Aero plays a huge part in efficiency, as most cyclists with drop bars understand as speed increases.

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          • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:42 am

            It’s not all about gearing – wind resistance quadruples at double the speed, and roughly doubles from 55 to 75mph. Are you telling me that the lower RPM halves fuel consumption? If not, then 55mph is still more efficient.

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            • 9watts February 4, 2014 at 9:43 pm

              And 45mph is even more ‘efficient,’ for whatever that is worth.

              But all this talk of fuel efficiency is so 20th Century. Faced with needing to leave the remaining oil in the ground, fuel efficiency is of no use whatsoever. The only sane thing to do at this point is to (figure out how to) stop driving at any speed. Not using fuel at all is going to be the phrase in the 21st Century.

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    • Paul Johnson May 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      Not everyone drives the higher speed, for one. It’s not like they’re posting “Minimum 75″ signs.

      Kansas is a big state (and a big biofuels state, E85 and B100 can be had for under $2/gal there), and since they have the biofuels infrastructure, vehicles that can handle it are more common. The ethanol and biodiesel do burn cleaner…

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      • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

        Minimum speed limits on highways are typically 10-15mph less than the maximum. On a 75mph highway, the minimum will likely be set to 60.

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        • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm

          Try more like 20 to 25 less. I’ve yet to see a minimum speed posted anywhere higher than 50, and that was on rural turnpike with no exits.

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          • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

            Do a little research, you’ll find 15 to be the most common. When states had 55 limits, 45 was the typical minimum speed, and that’s still the case on urban freeways in most states that carry minimum speed limits. State DoTs tend to avoid 20-25 differences whenever possible due to the increased “accident” rate.

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  • Aaron May 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Frankly, I don’t care how fast people on freeways drive. I’d be cool with I5 being the autobahn. The engineers designed them for speeds quite a bit faster than 65MPH anyhow. How much more dangerous are WA’s freeways than ORs?

    I’ll be happy to see residential speed limits lowered.

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    • Aaron May 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      (Especially since increasing freeway throughput should hopefully mean obviating some desire for more lanes.)

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      • Paul Johnson May 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

        “KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS” Your argument is invalid.

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    • Paul Johnson May 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      My understanding is the freeways here, save for limited locations, was designed with a split speed limit of maximum 110 mph, minimum 50 in mind.

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    • Mindful Cyclist May 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      I am from a state that had no daytime speed limit for 4 years. Once a speed limit was put in place, the amount of fatalities increase.

      http://www.hwysafety.com/hwy_montana.htm

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      • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 12:14 am

        There is something to be said about letting drivers go at the pace they feel safest at.

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        • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

          Yes, there is – “it’s dangerous”. Speed differential is one of the primary causes of accidents on freeways, especially when that differential is 20mph or more. That’s the motivating factor behind minimum speed limits on Interstate highways in many states.

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      • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 10:59 am

        That’s interesting. It’s hard to generalize based on the data provided – really it should be given per VMT. The interesting thing is that summer daytime driving remains almost unchanged – the real impact in Montana was in winter daytime driving. It would be interesting to see what the average speeds were without the speed limit. The report doesn’t say – so average speeds might have been lower when there was no speed limit, because people would drive at speeds they felt comfortable with, rather than trying to maintain an arbitrary speed faster than they wanted to go. Without that additional data, we can’t really say why the lack of a speed limit decreased winter daytime fatalities so much.

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        • Mindful Cyclist May 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

          Matt: Part of the reason I posted that study, even though I know it is incomplete, is that several commenters are basically catastrophizing about what will happen if the speed limit goes up 10 mph. Personally, I am in favor of raising the limit to 75 on the Interstates in non-urban areas and leaving it a the same on 2 lane highways.

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          • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

            We could safely do 65 on the rural two-lane stuff, especially out in eastern Oregon where bicycles and pedestrians are prohibited from almost all roads due to the lack of water facilities.

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  • dwainedibbly May 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Maybe if they linked this amendment with an Idaho Stop provision they could get it through. I might be tempted to support that.

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  • 9watts May 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Paul Johnson
    Any reasonably aerodynamic car built since the end of the national speed limit tends to get better mileage at 70-75 than at 55-60. This is definitely true for my 1999 Malibu, as I discovered when the speed limit on 26 dropped from 75 to 55 and never went back up…

    Your claims are without basis. Please cite your sources. The only way that could possibly be true is if the manufacturer of your car had set up the overdrive ratio in such a way as to cost them dearly in CAFE points. No manufacturer would do that.

    What is true is that cars used to (1960-70s) get the best fuel economy around 35-40mph, until we instituted a CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standard and designed a federal test cycle as a basis for comparing fuel economy of the fleet of cars sold in the US. With the test cycle featuring speeds of 55mph, auto manufacturers fiddled around with their overdrive ratios so that driving a constant 55mph corresponded with lower fuel use than other speeds in that range. Specifically fuel use in cruise driving is dependent on three distinct forces: general engine friction, tires and accessories, and air drag. The latter is entirely a function of speed, but tradeoffs among the three can and have been managed by car manufacturers such that AVPWR (a modeled 1993 car) achieved maximum constant fuel economy at 55mph (see Marc Ross. 1993. “A model of fuel economy with applications to driving cycles and traffic management.” Transportation Research Records 1416.)

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    • Paul Johnson May 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      A lot of cars built after the national sped limit went away won’t even drop into top gear until over 60…I’m next to idle at 75, as opposed to close to the high end of a gear at 55.

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      • Machu Picchu May 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm

        It sounds like you’re talking automatic transmission. Yours, like all the ones I’m familiar with should be shifting based on engine rpm versus load, and not just as a function of how fast you’re going. I could see your ride not upshifting at 55 if you’re pulling a hill, or have your foot into the throttle for some other reason, but if you’re cruising on the flats at this elevation, at 55mph, and it’s not upshifting to a higher gear, then there’s something wrong with your transmission. Especially if your claim is that your car (or whatever it is) is more efficient at higher speeds, it should be itching to upshift, and not requiring you to throttle up to 75 before it will shift. Add me to the list of folks who aren’t buying what you’re selling.

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        • Machu Picchu May 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

          And I’ll concede that I may not be familiar with some high-performance exception that you may be driving, but your claim relating to “most cars . . .” I’m not buying it.

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          • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 12:18 am

            “High performance” and “Automatic transmission” is an inherent oxymoron.

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          • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 12:22 am

            A Chevy Malibu is as generic as one gets.

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        • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 12:17 am

          Oklahoma-built Malibu. 55 is towards the high end of fourth gear. It tends to shift to fifth gear at around 63. I’m not the only Malibu owner who has seen this…it may be something about cars built for states that aren’t afraid of being traversed in a day.

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          • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

            Most efficient gear does not equal best fuel efficiency – many cars are not most fuel efficient in the top gear, depending on the speed at which one drives.

            And a Chevy Malibu hasn’t been the “most generic” car for about 20 years or so, especially on the west coast.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    This type of political horse trading may be an opportunity for a rare urban and rural bill. I made a similar suggestion in past years.

    To address safety concerns, If the higher rural highway speeds are limited to sections brought up to current signing striping standards, have a 5 ft min hard shoulder, daytime only, do not have tractor/ other farm equipment on them, or managed with automated speed cameras (not vans).

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    • Paul Johnson May 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Are there any state roads that don’t fit the current signing standards at this point? I do know that Oregon’s MUTCD doesn’t include day/night limits. And even the freeways get farm equipment from time to time: it’s not like Oregon’s a particularly urban state save for Portland, Eugene and possibly Salem.

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  • Kevin Wagoner May 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    This is a terrible idea.

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  • Mike May 14, 2011 at 7:00 am

    It doesn’t matter what the speed limit is, oregonians are still going to drive 15mph under the posted limit.

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    • Machu Picchu May 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Classic!

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    • Chris I May 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

      This is actually a good argument for not raising the limit. The 70 year old woman driving 50 in a 65 right now will likely continue to drive 50 if the limit is raised to 75. Conversely, the 20 year-old WRX driver going 75 in a 65 now is going to bump it up to 80 or 85 in a 75 zone. Higher differential speeds are more dangerous. Merging, older drivers, slow trucks, etc.

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    • spare_wheel February 4, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      good.

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  • Chris Monsere May 14, 2011 at 8:02 am

    The issue of how speed relates to safety is certainly complicated. While the individual drivers’ risk changes little in most circumstances (for freeways) the majority of evidence suggests there is an increased risk. When this change is considered over all drivers, nearly every study of increases in rural interstate speed limits have found decreases in safety. When this was last considered in 2004, PSU and OHSU prepared a report (used by the Speed Zone Review Panel) that contained a comprehensive literature review, analysis of existing data, and interpretation of this information to provide context for policy decisions. While it is a little dated in terms of numbers, the basic research presented in the report is still relevant.

    The link to the report is here: http://www.its.pdx.edu/upload_docs/1249577119.pdf

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  • Jill May 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

    yeah, lower commute times but raise death rates. Texas is raising theirs to 85 – I think we’re thinking backwards. I think they should be lower. nothing is worth your life just to get there 5 minutes earlier.

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  • Skid May 14, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Good it’s about time. They should also put up some “slower traffic keep right” signs.

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  • Chris May 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    If we really wanted to improve the efficiency of freeway travel, we’d actually require that people are decent drivers before handing out licenses. The vast majority of congestion in this state comes from unskillful drivers failing to take full advantage of the current state of roadway facilities and laws. The high standard for obtaining a license in most European countries results in a much smoother flow of traffic and creates drivers who are capable of driving at higher speeds without significantly increasing the risk of death or serious injury.

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  • wsbob May 14, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Starr and Atkinson must not like HB 3150 very well. Would any of the other four other members on the Business, Transportation and Economic Development committee join with them to attach to this bill, a 75mph interstate speed limit in Oregon?

    Here’s all six people on the committee:

    Lee Beyer, Chair-D
    Jason Atkinson, Vice-Chair-R
    Ginny Burdick-D
    Chris Edwards-D
    Fred Girod-R
    Bruce Starr-R

    At least during peak commute hours, freeways get jammed up with commute times becoming correspondingly longer, because too many cars are on the freeways at one time. If Starr, Atkinson, or anyone has anything credible to show that allowing vehicles on the interstates in Oregon to travel 75mph rather than 65mph will solve this problem, that would be worth looking at.

    Starr’s remark that the faster speed limit he proposes would “…fast track commerce through the state.”. I suppose that’s something to consider. Oregon is approximately 300 miles from border to border; a 5 hr trip at 60mph (since the limit in Oregon is actually 65mph, trip time would in fact be less than 5 hrs). At 75mph, the trip between Oregon’s borders would be 4 hours. A whole hour less.

    Oregon sure is behind the times on that one. Compared to those other states that have already caught on to ‘modernizing’ by putting in place the 75mph speed limit, just think of the hours and hours Oregonians are, by way of this state’s 65mph limit, obliging truck drivers and their goods to spend within the borders of this state. Those drivers must be just sick about that.

    Goods taking longer to get to their destination, and driver’s longer time to get them there, because of the slower speed limit, can probably be calculated into additional expense, the downside of higher speeds may counter those expenses.

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    • jim May 15, 2011 at 9:59 am

      I would doubt if they would let trucks drive 75

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      • wsbob May 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm

        An excerpt from maus’s story:

        “… Atkinson and Starr say they plan to amend HB 3150 to include a 75 mph speed limit on highways and interstates (it’s currently 65) for cars and 60 mph for commercial vehicles and semis (up from 55 mph). …” maus/bikeportland

        So if you’re saying, based on the above excerpt, the amendment Starr and Atkinson propose wouldn’t allow for a 75mph speed limit for trucks, perhaps you’re right that ‘they’ wouldn’t allow trucks to drive 75mph.

        It’s interesting though, that despite this, one of Starr and Atkinson’s talking points, is that raising the interstate speed limit for cars to 75mph will improve commerce in the state. Maybe I’ve mistakenly assumed that by ‘commerce’, the senators were thinking of goods moved across the state by truck. If that’s not what Starr meant by the phrase, “…fast track commerce through the state.”, I’d like to know what commerce moved by what type of vehicle he was thinking of.

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      • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 11:59 pm

        Yeah, you’re right. Oregon is backwards, and doing so would actually make some sense.

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        • wsbob May 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

          Actually, Oregon and Oregonians aren’t backwards. They’re progressive, which is precisely why residents haven’t taken the bait on the 75mph speed limit or other state’s so called ‘modernizing’ notions, such as the Idaho Stop. Oregon values quality of life and a safety over motorists saving modest amounts of time traveling on its highways.

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          • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm

            There’s a difference between being progressive (ie, doing the right thing) and being backwards (ie, holding onto something without a reason based in logic or reality). In this regard, Oregon is backwards. The problem isn’t speed, it’s driver ability. Weed out the bad drivers at the DMV instead of punishing good drivers with antique laws…

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            • 9watts February 4, 2014 at 9:49 pm

              “holding onto something without a reason based in logic or reality”

              Um, the study Chris Monsere linked to above isn’t a reason based in logic or reality?

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          • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 1:02 am

            “… The problem isn’t speed, it’s driver ability. …” Paul Johnson

            The fact of there being many good, responsible drivers that are able to drive well at 65mph, but not as well at 75mph is probably partly why Oregonians have not, and very likely still don’t want anything to do with a 75mph interstate speed limit.

            So you callously refer to this type of driver as “…bad drivers…”, to be weeded out. No doubt, they’d you for your wish that this be their fate.

            Where is the great over-riding need to raise the interstate speed limit another 10mph? It doesn’t exist.

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          • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 1:06 am

            Correction: “… No doubt, they’d love you for your wish that this be their fate. …”

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    • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

      You’ve just illustrated exactly why this doesn’t hurt commerce in Oregon – it’s an hour longer for traffic which crosses the entire state, i.e. which does not start or stop in Oregon – i.e. non-Oregon commerce. At most, that truck will stop to get gasoline, coffee and a donut, and use the restroom. Traffic which starts or ends a trip in Oregon will spend the majority of their time at 30mph or less on local streets near the pickup/delivery point(s) and at the dock loading or unloading. Small trucks will spend the majority of their time not on a limited access highway, where the maximum speed limit will almost always be less than 55mph. The commerce argument is BS and a red herring.

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      • matt picio May 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

        Obviously the driver will use the restroom / buy coffee and donut. One hopes it won’t be the “truck”. ;-)

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      • wsbob May 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm

        True enough, I think. Picio…you did…I hope…get that there was facetious implication in some of those remarks.

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        • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 11:02 am

          I thought so, but couldn’t tell for sure – I thought a response was warranted for those who read it as completely serious.

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  • David My Cycle Shop May 15, 2011 at 2:39 am

    Increasing speed on major highways will not necessarily lead to more road deaths or crashes. In Europe you only have to look at the higher speed limits in particular Germany and yet their accident stats are no worse than anywhere else. I would say that it’s the slower motorists who don’t keep up with the traffic flow that are the cause of many incidents. As for lower speed limits in built up areas, I am all for that one!

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    • Chris I May 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

      Not a fair comparison. Germany has a very strict and expensive licensing process.

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  • Oliver May 15, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Another difference between Europe and America is the type of vehicles that are popular. Big, heavy, ill-handling and poor braking SUV’s are more popular/the default choice here, these are much more difficult to control at high speed than your garden variety Euro-sedan, or hatch.

    2 things I never saw when living in Europe. Lifted Pick-up trucks and land yachts (giant motor homes.)

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    • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 12:01 am

      Depends on the part of the country. Sedans and small, right-hand-steer Japanese pickup trucks you only seem to find around here at the Oregon Zoo tend to be overwhelmingly popular in the midwest. Just because this part of the country has a propensity for having an automotive status car DSW doesn’t mean that the majority of the continent isn’t pragmatic.

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  • marshmallow May 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    matt picio
    It’s not all about gearing – wind resistance quadruples at double the speed, and roughly doubles from 55 to 75mph. Are you telling me that the lower RPM halves fuel consumption? If not, then 55mph is still more efficient.

    You’re right, wind resistance is cubed compared to a doubling of speed. Lower rpm cruising speeds allow a manufacturer to lean out the engine air/fuel ratio since higher rpms cause detonation from lean burn. Instead of a stoich 14:1 air/fuel, they can go as high as 30:1 and not suffer engine damage. Horsepower(a reflection of the engine’s ability to rapidly increase power) requirements during acceleration requires the stoich(or lower) ratio since the car is rapidly increasing speed. Steady state cruising requires relatively little horsepower and a leaner ratio. Manufacturers never run the leanest ratios at 55 mph due to inability to pass EPA regulations.

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  • MIddle of the Road Guy May 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Fun Trivia fact:

    First CAFE standards signed into law by Gerald Ford, Republican.

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  • binderbud May 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    All this the sky is falling crap over raising the limit is such bullsh!) . In every state on the roads that actually got a higher posted limit in 87 and 95 the crash and death rate dropped . This fact is always left out by those the bogus lie that raised limits caused more crashes and deaths . The lie that keeps on being repeated of higher death rates was when you included roads that saw no increase in posted limits . Crashes that were weather related or were other safety issue related that had nothing to do with limits being raised since they weren’t where the crash rate data was taken .

    Colorado DOT has documented the fact that higher posted limits more in line with the 85th percentile speed make roads safer . NC DOT has documented the fact that on stretches of highways that received higher posted limits the state clocked significantly lower accident and death rates .

    Higher posted and allowed speeds make roads and freeways safer not less safe . This is a documented by every state’s DOTs since higher limits were adopted 25 years ago buy all the states . Just a few weeks back we documented the safest roads across the US in the history of driving . And that is with travel speeds today the highest in recorded history .

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    • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

      Deaths did not drop in Michigan until after 2000. From 1981 to 2000 they were remarkably consistent, even though other safety indicators (# of crashes, etc) fell during that same period as vehicle safety improved.

      The feds say there isn’t enough data either way: http://www.motorists.org/speed-limits/effects-raising-lowering

      but that study is from 1996, and doesn’t reflect the most recent changes.

      The relevant factors are:

      1. Did the number of deaths / serious injuries decline at the same rate as other safety indicators? (the overall trend is greater safety, so if increased speeds reduce the rate of decline, then speed *does* kill)

      2. Are we talking bike/ped deaths in particular? We’re looking at how this affects CYCLISTS, not motorists. If higher speeds don’t increase motorist deaths but do increases cyclist deaths, then it’s obvious that bikeportland readers probably aren’t in favor of the amendment to this bill.

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  • wsbob May 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    “… Higher posted and allowed speeds make roads and freeways safer not less safe . This is a documented by every state’s DOTs since higher limits were adopted 25 years ago buy all the states . …” binderbud

    Post a few specific statements from the documents you refer to, that draw the conclusion that higher posted and allowed speeds make roads and freeways safer not less safe.

    People reading this story and following the comments to it, might be interested in checking out documents drawing a conclusion that’s contrary to common logic and from what I’ve heard but haven’t researched to put my finger on, documents indicating that faster speeds over 55mph make interstates less safe.

    People want driving on interstates to be safer. If raising the speed limit from 65mph to 75mph did that, I think the public would probably factor this into their decision about whether they would support such a change.

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  • Paul Johnson May 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    matt picio
    The solution isn’t re-degulating trucks, the solution is regulating the RVs – they should be a separate, restricted class with increased licensing.

    I’m not suggesting that trucking be deregulated. Just have parity with the rest of the country.

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    • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 11:22 am

      What do you consider to be parity? I know Michigan also has differential speed limits. If Wikipedia is correct, it looks like 10 states have them, and the other 40 do not. Oregon apparently has a 15mph difference, whereas everyone else is 5-10mph. After looking around on the net, and at the state and federal studies, I’d probably support eliminating them – it looks like truckers aren’t the problem so much as car drivers not knowing how to drive around trucks. (and I’m sure most truckers and Trimet drivers have anecdotal evidence to that effect) At worst, the studies have concluded that there is no overall increase in the “accident” rate.

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  • Greg May 16, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Consider me a vote in favor of raising the interstate speed limit to 75.

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  • DK May 16, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Since I have to leave the city for almost all of my mountian biking adventures, 70 or 75 on rural interstates sounds reasonable to me. Keep it 60 in metro-areas and allow cities to set their own limits on local roadways. Keep the 18wheelers to 55, maybe 60.

    If people drive faster and burn more fuel, they also buy more fuel. It’s a choice and this is the U.S., where choices are ours to make. Hate on me when I pass you on the freeway and I’ll still sleep good while you nurse your ulcers.

    Why is this not a win-win?

    Peace.

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    • middle of the road guy May 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

      DK,

      Most liberals tend to believe they are intellectually superior and know what the best choices are for other people to make.

      Conservatives are usually quite sure of their moral superiority to the liberal.

      It’s not a win-win because you are not behaving as others deem appropriate.

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    • matt picio May 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Where is my choice? I lead trips of cyclists out into the wilderness on state highways which would be affected by this change. These routes have no alternates, and they are unpleasant and sometimes hazardous to ride with 55mph traffic. 75 mph traffic is significantly louder, and creates a larger buffet of wind when a vehicle passes by. If I’m coming back from Tillamook on Highways 6 and 8 over the coast range, I can easily hit 40-45mph on the downhill – and traffic passing at 75 could buffet me enough to force me off the road. The nearest paved alternate route is 20 miles away. Why is it ok for the safety of me and my group to be compromised in order to let holiday traffic get back from the coast 15-20 minutes earlier?

      We don’t all use cars to get out of town.

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      • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 11:47 am

        Try using 30 instead. It has space, and it isn’t a deathtrap like six is.

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      • marshmallow May 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

        Have you thought about an orange safety flag extended 3 feet into the lane from the left of your bike? Works wonders in getting traffic to give you a wider space.

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    • wsbob May 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      DK…how many miles out of city on 65mph roadway are you ‘having’ to drive for your mountain bike adventures? Let’s say you’re driving a couple hours on such a roadway: you’d travel 130 miles in that couple hours at 65mph…150 miles at 75mph. A 20 mile difference, which at 65mph would bite less than 20 minutes from your out of city mountain bike adventuring.

      Are you suggesting that such modest reductions in time traveled are so important that to provide for them, the public should have to endure noisier, dirtier, less safe highways and freeways? At present speeds, high speed highways and freeways already make for a very noisy and dirty, dangerous presence for all living things within thousands of feet of them.

      In modern society, high speed highways are kind of a necessary evil. The least we can do is not worsen that fact by allowing motor vehicles to produce more noise, dirt and danger through raising speed limits to 75mph.

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      • DK May 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

        I think the scale of the argument is far greater than my mountain biking adventures. And why it’s even an argument bewilders me. Locals win by gaining control of surface streets and, with this proposed amendment, commerce/commuters/tourists win when using the INTERSTATE system to pass through our state at an increased clip.

        It’s a nice little math lesson you’ve laid out but it’s irrelevant. 20minutes to me is what it is…to me and me alone. You are in no position to tell me how much of my time is trivial and can be wasted away behind the wheel of my automobile. It’s my time to value and use as I see fit.

        …And I AM a liberal! Liberals are supposed to live and let live….Not preach from their soapboxes.

        For the record, I thought the bill was a winner to begin with. I like it even more with the proposed ammendment.

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        • DK May 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

          OK…
          Interstates and Highways. My bad.

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        • wsbob May 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm

          “…Locals … . … commerce/commuters/tourists …” DK

          Perhaps making of the public, distinctions in the form of groups they would have oppose each other to serve their own ends, is part of Starr and Atkinson’s game. If so, that’s not an admirable effort on their part, because negative effects from misuse of motor vehicles is a problem common to everyone, whether they be locals or commerce/commuters/tourists.

          Re-read my comment to which you chose to respond and you will find that what I asked you is:

          “Are you suggesting that such modest reductions in time traveled are so important that to provide for them, the public should have to endure noisier, dirtier, less safe highways and freeways?” wsbob

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          • DK May 17, 2011 at 8:37 am

            I think this is an alarmist’s, “sky is falling” point of view.

            I’m sorry to pick on you but I get the impression you can take it. You seem to have $0.02 to spare on every topic that comes up.

            Our elected officials will ultimately decide one way or the other and you and I will be living with the decision no matter what it is…so rest easy.

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          • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

            “… I’m sorry to pick on you …” DK

            You cited a reason for raising the interstate speed limit in Oregon to 75mph, that you apparently consider to be a good reason.

            Responding to your remarks to this thread, other people as well as myself… which no doubt you’ve noticed, have welcomed the opportunity to lay out for you and others thinking similarly, that though that reason may be good enough for you, it’s probably not good enough for Oregonians in general.

            Starr and Atkinson may be kind of excited about the reaction they’re anticipating to their effort to raise the speed limit, piggybacked on HB3150. We’ll have to wait and see how good an idea other Oregonians outside bikeportland, and the legislature, think Starr and Atkinson’s effort is.

            Maybe you felt you were picking on me, but I didn’t see much sign of it in your remarks. Anyone that really believes something, and can express their view in a reasonably civil, constructive fashion, should do exactly that. It’s not always fun for someone to have their view countered by a view that’s different, but a better understanding of the issue at hand can often come from taking such risks.

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        • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm

          I’m not sure local jurisdictions have sole authority over their speed limits. Something is to be said for consistency instead of trying to remember if, for example, a neighborhood street is legally 25, 20 or even 15 when there is no signage and conditions would allow safe travel at any of those speeds…in Oregon, we do have that consistency currently: It’s 25, except near a school when children are present (then it’s 20).

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          • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 12:31 am

            “I’m not sure local jurisdictions have sole authority over their speed limits. …” Paul Johnson

            They don’t have sole jurisdiction over speed limits, which is the point of HB 3150. The bill was written to allow local jurisdictions an option for some correction of neighborhood situations they’ve identified as having problems associated with the state specified standard speed limit.

            My general recollection of the bill’s writing, is that local jurisdictions can’t just randomly reduce a street’s speed limit by the specified 5mph; the state has criteria that determines which streets qualify for the change. Local jurisdictions would do the work to determine whether one of their streets met the criteria. They they’d apply for the speed limit reduction. The state would then either give them the ‘yay’, or ‘nay’.

            Since the incentive for allowing the change was to restore neighborhood safety and quality of life, I’d be inclined to think that streets being granted the reduced speeds would be clearly signed to that effect for road users.

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  • GlowBoy May 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I’m not buying the business of car being more fuel efficient at speeds above 60mph. There may be a FEW massively powerful, extremely tall-geared performance cars where this is the case, but I’d be surprised if this is true of even 2% of vehicles. Even my Golf TDI, geared very tall and often cited as an example of this, tops out somewhere between 50 and 60mph, and rapidly declines at higher speeds. Neither does the Prius, cited above for its extremely aerodynamic profile, do well at high speeds — in fact its top steady-state mpg occurs well 50mph. And I’ve NEVER heard of a mainstream car that can’t go into top gear at 60mph. All this is patently absurd rationalization.

    I spend a lot of time among the REAL fuel economy experts at cleanmpg.com, and I can tell you that these canards will get you laughed out of the forums.

    Speed sucks. Gas.

    I choose to drive around for 60mph for fuel economy, and I appreciate that thanks to the lower speed limits folks DO drive slower in Oregon, reducing the speed differential and making it safer for me to do so.

    Raise the speed limits and many people will drive faster, raising the speed differential and thus the level of danger … and I can guarantee you that the rationalizing speed demons will blame ME for it!

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    • binderbud May 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Higher limits lead to less being wasted . When drivers are allowed to drive faster they choose more efficient models to purchase and drive . There are plenty of models on sale today that give 40+ mpgs at these speeds . I’ve owned and driven diesel powered German cars for almost 35 years now that have little trouble achieving at least 40 mpgs at these speeds .

      If your car gets poor mpgs at 75-80 mph maybe you should consider replacing it with a more fuel efficient option . Not try to force the rest of us to drive slower because you were too stupid to figure out what it cost to drive consumption at today’s allowed speeds .

      Almost all of those today complaining about the high cost of driving today were wasting fuel for no real reason for years . The only difference today is with the cost at the pump rising today which I support by the way they are finally feeling cost of that waste .

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  • GlowBoy May 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    DK, a couple of points:

    1. Those of us who drive at more moderate speeds are not nursing ulcers. Quite the reverse, as I learned 3 years ago when I did a 1500 mile drive at 60-65mph. Much to my surprise I arrived refreshed, relaxed and ready to do it again!

    I used to drive as fast as I thought I could get away with, and still fresh in my mind was a previous trip of comparable length when I drove at MUCH higher speeds. We finished the trip exhausted, vowing not to take another roadtrip for another year. The later, slower trip might have taken 5 hours longer, but it sure was less ulcer-inducing. Oh, and it used an entire tank less gas.

    2. This isn’t just about how you value your time. As a civil libertarian I strongly believe that Americans should be able to do whatever we want as long as we don’t harm or endanger others.

    Guess what? Driving fast endangers others! Driving is not a private act. With the safety of other at stake, society has EVERY RIGHT to tell you how much time you should take to cover a given distance.

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    • binderbud May 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Slower lower limits require more time , stretch out longer drives making a crash at the end of the trip much more likely . this has been documented for years in the western parts of the US . By allowing drivers to travel at a speeds high enough to do away with the last hours of a 10+ hour drive the drive is safer . Drivers having to cross Oregon today are forced to add hours to their trip making them less safe . Raising the limit would allow for quicker crossing on their way to another state making these trips safer .

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      • binderbud May 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm

        You ask where are the extra hours ?????? On long drives these miles are border line to be crossed in one day/drive .

        If you have to drive slower many times the trip is just too long to cross in one drive requiring an extra night in a hotel or in a rest area sleeping . So you are talking about adding another day to a trip that with a higher could be crossed in one day . So as much as 12-14 hours wasted , added to that trip that road design doesn’t require . So not a lot of money saved by driving slower when I have to shell out $85-120 a night extra plus the cost of extra meals ……………..

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      • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 12:04 am

        “… Drivers having to cross Oregon today are forced to add hours to their trip making them less safe . …” binderbud

        Because you decline to include any figures or explanation of what you mean, it’s very difficult to tell what you’re saying here. Maybe you’ve figured out some way that Oregon’s 65mph, rather than Starr and Atkinson’s sought after 75mph speed limit, is forcing drivers to add “…hours…” to their trip when they cross Oregon, but it’s not clear from your remarks, what that way could possibly be.

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        • binderbud May 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

          After spending just under 8.5-9 hours on I-5 going the length of CA @ ~80-85 it would be nice to be able to cross OR in ~3.5 hours instead of what is required today if you stick to the underposted 55-65 limit max posted today . The interstate in OR shares the same design as it does in the rest of the US where 80 mph is the acceptable and enforce limit today over most of the US , faster in some states .

          The posted maximum limit in OR is about 50 years out of date . Today in OR we have a limit based on what we were driving in the late 1950s & early 1960s . Not what we are driving today .

          Today with tires being rated at a minimum speed rated @ 100-110-131 ( S , T or H rated ), brakes ( ABS & power on pretty much all models ) , steering & suspensions ( power assist rack & pinion , traction control and independant suspenions on most today ) are decades , centuries ahead of what was on the road ~50 years ago when the 65 maximum limit was conceived . Today vehicles are easier to control at 100 mph than they were at 50-60 mph 50 years ago .

          120/75-130 kph/81 mph is the average posted limit with 140-150 kph being the allowed speed and universal design speed for vehicles around the world today .

          75 mph as the posted limit today in OR on rural freeways is nothing outrageous or dangerous . Nor is it out of line with the rest of the US as an accepted speed limit & allowed speeds today .

          And lastly having the lower than average limits posted across the state doesn’t make drivers slow down . 60+ years of road & freeway engineering prove drivers pick the speed they feel safest and comfortable at with no regard to what is painted on the speed limit sign . Raising the limit to reflect the 85th percentile speed is the safest way post speed limits . Which today is at a minimum 60-65 on urban freeways and 75-80 on rural freeways universally across the US .

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          • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 11:35 pm

            “… it would be nice to be able to cross OR in ~3.5 hours instead of what is required today if you stick to the underposted 55-65 limit max posted today . …” binderbud

            Which, according to your calculations, is …? How much time are you talking about, compared to the 3.5 hours you cite as the amount of time you’d like it to take to cross Oregon?

            Again, you’ve declined to state information that’s critical to the meaning you’re trying to express. How much time you find it takes a driver to cross Oregon at 65mph, compared to the time it takes a driver to cross Oregon at 75mph?

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    • binderbud May 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm

      Over the last 5 years VA ( 70 all vehicles ), IND ( 65 trucks/70 cars ), KY ( 70 for all vehicles ) & OH ( 70 for all vehicles ) have all raised limits to 70 mph . They all have documented lower crash and death rates on roads which got higher limits . In the last 3 months KS & LA went to 75 without issue or change in real travel speed . Currently TX , ME and OR are all considering a 75 speed limit . SC & TX are both considering a 85 mph limit today .

      If higher limits were such a threat why hasn’t any state that has adopted a higher limit since 95 considered lowering it ????????

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      • Paul Johnson May 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

        TX is already 75. They’re talking about going to 85 on extremely mind-blowingly rural segments.

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        • binderbud May 17, 2011 at 1:04 am

          70 is the current maximum state wide speed limit during the day , 65 at night . The 75 bill in the legislature today is to make that the default limit across the state along with doing way with the lower night time limit . Today only 3-5 % of the state with low population densities has a 75 limit .

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          • Paul Johnson July 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm

            I hope TXDOT still has the option to post a night speed limit, since there’s quite a few roads in Texas with night limits now because they’re in open range or deer habitat with no highway lighting. Logic being to keep people from outrunning their headlights on a dark highway prone to large animal roadkill.

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            • binberbud February 4, 2014 at 1:25 pm

              UPDATE,

              Since 2011 Texas has adopted & widely posted 75 as its’ default maximum across the state on all roads. ~90 % of rural 2 lane highways & freeways across all of Texas have seen the limit raised to 75. Also more miles have been posted @ 80 since 2011, ~600 miles. With a ~40 mile stretch of the Trans Texas highway now posted @ 85. The night time speed limit was also done away with across the state.

              Utah has since adopted 80 mph as its’ maximum on rural interstates. Today 80 is posted on 339 miles of I-80, I-15 & I-84. With 80 mph posted stretches expected to be added to I-70 by spring or summer 2014. Utah today has 3+ years of data showing no increase in crashes or deaths where higher limits are allowed. On most stretches the crash & death rate has dropped.

              Wyoming & Idaho are currently debating bills to raise the their states’ maximum to 80 mph. 75 is the maximum today in both states.

              Maine has since passed a law allowing 75 where ever DOT determines it is safe to do so. They are expected to see the increase this spring.

              Ohio has since passed and now posted a increase to a maximum of 70 for all traffic on ~2,000 miles of its’ states freeways & highways.

              Pennsylvania has passed and is now evaluating stretches for its’ new maximum of 70 mph.

              New Hampshire has passed and now posted 70 mph on I-93. Currently debating allowing 70 on the rest of the states’ rural freeways.

              ILLINOIS has passed and now posted 70 mph for all traffic on 98 % of the states’ freeways. They did away with their lower truck limit a few years ago.

              NY, NJ & Florida are currently debating a limit increase to 75 mph.

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              • binberbud February 4, 2014 at 1:28 pm

                Missouri also has a bill currently in their legislature to raise the states’ maximum on rural freeways & highways to 75 which is in line with other western border states.

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              • Dwayne Dibbly February 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm

                Are you suggesting that Oregon should strive to be more like TX and FL?

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              • Paul Johnson February 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm

                Speaking from experience having seen it first hand, a lot of narrow spots and older bridges in Texas are still posted at 55 or less, even if the rest of the road is 75. Texas also has a lot of just wide open space where prevailing conditions are clear with unobstructed visibility to the horizon 24/7, especially on the farm-to-market highways.

                Missouri does have similar weather patterns and terrain as much of western Oregon, especially around Eugene, but Missouri also takes substantially better care of their highways, with the primary highway system being two lanes with broad paved shoulders and fairly fresh pavement or better. You have to go onto some pretty rural secondary highways (like state highway O, off the top of my head) before you start getting into anything that gets comparable to the vast majority of Oregon’s highways, of which I consider OR 219 to be a reasonably representative example. Unless the congress there overrides better engineering practices, I seriously doubt MODOT would even consider raising speeds past the typical 45/55 seen on their secondary highways.

                Save for Idaho, which I know tends to be worse (and makes me question who has set I 90 to 70 for much of it, that road is almost too rough to take at 60 through the rockies), it honestly would surprise me if any of the states considering a higher speed limit doesn’t maintain their highways at a substantially higher level with greater margin for human error than Oregon does; Oregon sets a pretty low bar.

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              • 9watts February 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm

                2 things wrong with your argument, binderbud

                (1) as Matt Picio stated above, safety (for those inside cars) has been steadily improving over time for reasons that have to do with how cars are built, primarily. For your argument that increasing speed limits has not led to increased deaths and injuries to be valid you have to cite a study that disaggregates this background improvement in safety over time (for those in cars) from what you are asserting, which would be overlaid onto this. Show me the study.

                (2) the NMSL was instituted because of fuel savings, not safety. Notwithstanding decades of fooling around with raising the limits, the fuel savings benefits of driving slower still holds, and our ability to extract oil and get away with burning it has only declined in the intervening decades.

                Amazing, the fervor….

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    • binderbud May 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      ILL just passed a 65 limit for all traffic on freeways doing away with it’s truck limit .

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    • DK May 17, 2011 at 8:30 am

      The ulcers I refer to aren’t due to driving fast, but rather targeted to those folks getting all worked up about what everyone else wants to do. Instead of opening their minds to the possiblity that others may not see the world as they do, they insist on pushing their agenda out to the masses from the confines of their quiet, comfortable, sheltered reality.

      “Driving fast endangers others” Yes, I agree when your speed is excessive relative to conditions. We aren’t debating whether speeding is dangerous but rather, if a higher speed limit is valid when conditions are amicable to said increase in speed. …And indeed, society does have a right to tell me what a safe limit is but… I’m part of society and my feelings about a safe limit are obviously in contrast to yours and others.

      It is the job of our elected officials to reflect our wishes within the machine of government. The original bill, with the included ammendments to increase highway/interstate speed limits, happens to reflect my views pretty closely. If I’m wrong, so be it. It’s not an issue that keeps me up at night.

      In summary, I’m not telling anyone here they’re wrong unless they start preaching to me. I simply wanted to offer a counter-point to the idea that an increase in interstate speed is categorically “bad”. Agree or disagree is OK with me. These are opinions people, and we are all entitled to our own.

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  • binderbud May 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    the posted limits in Michigan are 60 trucks / 70 cars on freeways . 65 on rural two lane highways .

    Now , today the allowed speed on most freeways is around the state 83-85 today in good weather , low 70s on two lane roads . And Michigan has clocked the lowest death rate per miles traveled ever over the last 10 years .

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  • GlowBoy May 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    “Slower lower limits require more time , stretch out longer drives making a crash at the end of the trip much more likely . this has been documented ” – binderbud

    Link, please.

    Not buying it. If anything, higher speeds are more fatiguing, leading to increased crash risk in addition the geometrically higher risks resulting from speed alone.

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    • binderbud May 18, 2011 at 2:32 am

      GlowBoy
      “Slower lower limits require more time , stretch out longer drives making a crash at the end of the trip much more likely . this has been documented ” – binderbud
      Link, please.
      Not buying it. If anything, higher speeds are more fatiguing, leading to increased crash risk in addition the geometrically higher risks resulting from speed alone.

      My guess is you have never made any long drives because you had to . Ever made the drive from S CAL to Denver or any other drive similar ???? I’m betting not .

      Today with higher speeds safely traveled and allowed 80-85 mph for most of it the drive can be done in ~13-15 hours . During the 55-65 error it took over 22+ hours which made it take two days which costs much more in hotels and food .

      During the 55-65 error the drive from San Fransisco to Denver was ~25+ hours . While today it can be safely done in under 18 hours , borderline for one day .

      How about the drive from Denver to KC ??? 12-13 hours when the limit was 55-65 while today it can be done safely in ~8-9 hours .

      Or the one I first spoke of S CAL , OC to Seattle . Today with the limit being underposted in Oregon that is a ~ 17-18 hour drive . If Oregon posted a more reasonable rural limit of say 75 that drive will only take 16-17 hours .

      Do a little searching for the term “deadly hours” on a long road trip . This is a well known term in the west for last hours of a long drive between western cities . Every state in the west has documented the fact that higher allowed speeds have made crossing the plains safer . Safer by cutting off hours from city to city . You can look that one up if you wish also .

      The higher speeds allowed today have significantly reduced the one car fatigue related crash , the main danger while driving in the west . In CO single car fatigue accidents were cut by as much as 85 % from one study where the allowed rural freeway speed it in the mid to upper 80s mph today . In Utah the enforced limit on rural freeways is 85 so it’s not uncommon to travel 84-85 mph for 4-6 hours at a time .

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  • marshmallow May 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Lower speeds put drivers to sleep. Higher speeds raise situational awareness since the need for self preservation increases. Yes it’s more fatiguing at the end of the trip, but less fatiguing during the trip, where the safety of others is in jeopardy. This is my experience on many drives from Portland to Los Angeles non stop, except for gas.

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  • Paul Johnson May 17, 2011 at 1:12 am

    wsbob
    “I’m not sure local jurisdictions have sole authority over their speed limits. …” Paul Johnson
    They don’t have sole jurisdiction over speed limits, which is the point of HB 3150. The bill was written to allow local jurisdictions an option for some correction of neighborhood situations they’ve identified as having problems associated with the state specified standard speed limit.

    Err, I meant to say, “i’m not sure local jurisdictions should have sole authority” in the matter. And if that’s the primary point of HB 3150, then it should fail on that merit alone.

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    • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm

      Paul… . Go search out the bill’s text. It’s probably in one of the links maus has included in his story, or the story about HB 3150. I could have searched it out and cited excerpts, but I figure people that really need the info, to reassure their mind about whether or not this bill should be passed into law, can do that for themselves easily enough.

      As I’ve already noted, the bill wouldn’t allow local jurisdictions to impulsively reduce the speed limit on a given street. They’d still effectively have to be granted permission from the state to make the change.

      The big difference to me, seems to be that cities wanting to make the change, could take the initiative to do the legwork to offer proof to the state that the need for a reduced neighborhood street speed limit on certain streets, exists. The state could still turn them down if the criteria isn’t met. So an option to reduce speeds wouldn’t be a sole authority, it would be a joint authority.

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      • Paul Johnson May 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        OK, read it. Basically, this bill is a no-op, since cities can already petition ODOT to change a speed limit.

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        • wsbob May 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm

          I’m not prepared to recount exactly how HB 3150 came to be, but I believe your conclusion is incorrect. It’s probably true that cities can petition ODOT to change a speed limit, but probably not to serve the purpose intended with this bill.

          I’m thinking the change presently allowed would be to change from one standard speed limit to another standard speed limit. If I understand the bill correctly, what HB 3150 would provide for, is a variance from a standard speed limit, which the state has apparently been disinclined to allow. If that wasn’t so, the city of Portland wouldn’t have been quite so hampered in fulfilling its ‘neighborhood greenstreets’ objectives.

          So if neighbors on a street with a 25mph speed limit felt the street needed a reduced speed limit, it could contact the city, have the city determine if their street met criteria that qualified for the reduction, and then submit a request for the change to the state.

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          • Paul Johnson May 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

            wsbob
            I’m thinking the change presently allowed would be to change from one standard speed limit to another standard speed limit. If I understand the bill correctly, what HB 3150 would provide for, is a variance from a standard speed limit, which the state has apparently been disinclined to allow. If that wasn’t so, the city of Portland wouldn’t have been quite so hampered in fulfilling its ‘neighborhood greenstreets’ objectives.

            That seems to necessitate the creation of a new street classification, not throw throw the engineers under the bus.

            wsbob
            So if neighbors on a street with a 25mph speed limit felt the street needed a reduced speed limit, it could contact the city, have the city determine if their street met criteria that qualified for the reduction, and then submit a request for the change to the state.

            How is that different than what we have now?

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          • wsbob May 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

            “… That seems to necessitate the creation of a new street classification, not throw throw the engineers under the bus. …” Paul Johnson

            I’m fairly sure I remember your name in comments when maus published stories back some time ago about the the ‘neighborhood greeways’ concept that the city of Portland had some part in bringing to the fore. So I’m inclined to think you’ve read those stories and know about the details of how this bill and what it seeks to provide for, that the current arrangement can’t, came about.

            The option for neighborhoods to bring about a reduction in the speed limits allowed through their neighborhoods, has something to do with this effort on the part of Portland…I think.

            Maybe the bill amounts to a re-classification of sorts. I’m not exactly sure. There’s got to be some way for neighborhoods to bring speed limits on their streets down, if standard limits are being a problem. The current laws aren’t allowing them to affect that change. So along comes ideas like those in HB 3150.

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  • binderbud May 18, 2011 at 1:52 am

    wsbob
    “… it would be nice to be able to cross OR in ~3.5 hours instead of what is required today if you stick to the underposted 55-65 limit max posted today . …” binderbud
    Which, according to your calculations, is …? How much time are you talking about, compared to the 3.5 hours you cite as the amount of time you’d like it to take to cross Oregon?
    Again, you’ve declined to state information that’s critical to the meaning you’re trying to express. How much time you find it takes a driver to cross Oregon at 65mph, compared to the time it takes a driver to cross Oregon at 75mph?

    Being allowed to go 75-80 would cut over an hour off of the 295 mile Oregon I-5 drive . Today going the underposted limit adds that extra hour for no reason . It’s not about safety because we are safely traveling at these speeds today in all of the lower 48 . This proposed law doesn’t address this but no controlled access highway anywhere should be posted below 65 unless there are real design reasons . CA seems to have gotten this message so has safely posted all of it’s urban freeways to this limit . As have many other states across the US . In fact Michigan last year posted all of it’s freeways across the state urban & rural to 70 mph . And also raised more than a few two lane highways to 65 across the state . Even with this the death rate per miles traveled have continued to drop . Don’t believe it you look it up …….

    Oregon’s outdated underposted speed limits makes the trip into Washington take just too long to do all at once safely which costs a traveler like me extra money . 75-80 mph on Oregon freeways is well within design speed and is more than a safe speed for that interstate .

    By the way today most already travel safely at this speed today but are running the risk of being hit with a unfair speed tax that has nothing to do with safety . This speed is within the 85th percentile speed which is proven way to set speed limits if you want them to be relevant and obeyed .The only reason to keep the limit low is to use it as a revenue generator like it is being used today .

    And you can look up the posted limits on the length of I-5 in Oregon and do the math . I stated very clearly how long it would take to cross the state if the speed limit was raised . I also clearly stated that time compared to crossing at today’s posted limits . If you have ever driven the length of OR on I-5 you have an idea of how long it takes today if you drive the posted limit or are math skills your weak point …..

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    • wsbob May 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      “… Being allowed to go 75-80 would cut over an hour off of the 295 mile Oregon I-5 drive . …” binderbud

      You’re finally getting close to the travel time difference between traveling across Oregon at 65mph, and traveling across Oregon at 75mph…or, as you want to say…80mph. You’re still fudging, by saying “…over an hour off…”, because it would actually be under an hour off. Doesn’t matter that much, because it’s getting down to minutes.

      295 miles at 65mph works out to 4.55 hrs. 295 miles at 80mph(though the speed limit change would be just 75mph.) works out to 3.61 hrs.

      295 miles at 75mph works out to 3.99 hrs. So, over that distance the 75mph speed limit would result in a time savings of only just slightly over a half hour.

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      • Paul Johnson May 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

        You forget the Californian driver factor here that reduces speeds, limit or not, out of any sane driver’s need of self preservation, that is unique to the far west. Go farther east, and the “California” warning sign is sufficient warning to avoid them (and I feel sorry for Louisiana, who copied California’s plate design, as their drivers are often mistaken in Indian Country for Californians).

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  • binderbud May 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Two things I’m not from CA but I do have family there . My home state is on the east coast . Second is TX passed a blanket 75 rural highway and freeway limit today . The bill also does away with the night time limit and brings truck limits in line with cars . The bill is now on it’s way to the gov for his signature , the higher limit takes effect on 9/1/11

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  • ChrisP July 26, 2011 at 7:16 am

    The speed limit should be set by measuring the 85th percentile of free-flowing traffic and should have nothing to do with the governor’s feelings. If the flow is 75, the speed limit should be 75 because that’s what drivers have deemed comfortable and appropriate. If one is uncomfortable at that speed, he can move all the way over or use a lower-speed alternative route.

    The article and arguments have little statistical data to prove that 75 would be unsafe. The truck speed limit makes no sense because traffic is not moving uniformly, thereby increasing unnecessary lane changes and perhaps aggressive driving. Since 1974, we’ve had nothing but highway and automobile safety and efficiency improvement (remember the air bag?). And quite frankly, if you’re in a freeway crash at 65, you’re not getting much deader at 75.

    People will drive what they feel is comfortable regardless of what a sign says, so please stop suggesting that “oh, lower rural interstates to 50 mph for ‘safety.’”

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  • binderbud July 26, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Since this article was written the posted maximum limit has changed in 4 states.

    Kansas has posted the limit to 75 on 807 miles of freeways starting June 30 without issue.

    LA has adopted a 75 limit on 200 miles I-49 without a problem in the middle of April.

    Maine has signed into law an increase to 75 on ~100 miles of I-95 that takes effect September 1.

    And Texas has signed into law a default increase state wide of the limit from 70 to 75 mph for all traffic. This law does away without the mandatory slower truck limit statewide that exists today. The new law also drops the slower nighttime limit across the state today.

    By the doing away with the lower truck limit and the doing way with the slower night time limits this raises all traffic to 75 across the state on freeways and highways where TxDOT deems it safe. And the change raises the limit to 80 mph posted 24 hours a day for all traffic on 512 miles of I-10 & I-20. This change which goes into effect September 1 raises the truck limit by at least 10 mph across the state and raises the posted night time limit by 10 to 15 mph for all traffic.

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  • E February 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    It is friggin 2014 and still OR can’t seem to raise the speed limit up to 65-70 going through parts of the outback or even on the entire stretch of 97. Difference is CA has made parts of 97 65 mph and likewise on 395 heading towards the Oregon border. Then once crossing the Oregon border you are dropped back to 55 mph. Can’t really make good time getting to much of anywhere in the state of OR and those highways can take 65 mph. Probably why I avoid going into that state because of the 55 mph speed limit and it has gotten pretty sad in that state.

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    • wsbob February 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

      By “parts of the outback”, do you mean simply two lane state roads out in the lesser developed and populated areas of Oregon?

      Even with perhaps not a lot people out there, or traffic on the road, driving 65-70 and higher, may not be such a good idea; when a cow, or a deer suddenly pops onto the road in front of a motor vehicle, being unable to avoid hitting because people are driving too fast, is not a wonderful experience for people, not to mention the critters.

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      • Paul Johnson February 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm

        The fringe of the desert along the Cascades and Siskyous is commonly referred to, and even has ODOT signage indicating it is, the Oregon Outback.

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    • Paul Johnson February 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      There’s stress factors on the bridges along the way that higher speeds exaggerate. Oregon’s bridges tend to be a lot more spindly than you’ll find in other parts of the country. And these same stresses also factor into road wear and tear on static surfaces as well. If Oregon’s having a hard time maintaining roads capable of handling 55 safely, what are the odds it can honestly afford to upgrade them to handle higher speeds?

      It’s not like other states are that much faster, either; Oklahoma’s 35-65 on the two-lane rural highways (with the lower limits typically being unpaved or having no verge between the pavement and dense roadside vegitation, thus being a real sudden deer magnet zone).

      I’ll grant you sad, though. And folks have this weird denial issue about how bad it’s got, too. Listening to people talk about Portland like it’s still 1997 (ie, pretty much everyone who talks about Portland) is a lot like listening to that one coworker who won’t shut up about that time he made the game winning touchdown in a high school game 20 years ago.

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  • binberbud February 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    these roads were 65 before the NMSL, many improvements have been made since. so posting them back to 65 or 70 would pose no more issues than today with the 55 max….

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    • Paul Johnson February 4, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Mostly just throwing another layer of asphalt down and replacing guardrails and signs as they get hit. Most of the bridges in the way are still the ones from before, with minimal maintenance done to them, if that. Feel free to talk it over with ODOT; they’re authorized to post as high as 75; Oregon’s speed limits are set by the engineers who have to maintain this stuff (even if they do tend to post too high on city streets) and I’m sure they’ll be happy to expand on what I said until your ears bleed.

      Be glad that it’s set by engineers instead of individual counties and towns trying to generate revenue.

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