It’s 70, officially

The Virginia Department of Transportation completed installation of 70 mph speed limit signs in November, more than a month before the estimated completion date of Dec. 31. The initiative results in 61 percent of Virginia’s interstates having speed limits of 70 mph.

The last segments – Interstate 95 from Ashland to Spotsylvania, the southern piece of I-81 from Christiansburg to the Tennessee line, and all sections of I-77 – were completed the week of Nov. 15.

“The higher speed limits will affect travelers in shortening commute times and will more efficiently move goods and services throughout Virginia,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell, who pushed the move from the governor’s office.

Legislation allowing 70 mph speed limits went into effect July 1, 2010, and the first sign changes – I-295 from the Lafrance Road underpass, just south of I-64 to the I-295/I95 Interchange – took place at that time.

While campaigning for governor, McDonnell proposed the speed limit increase to improve transportation in the Commonwealth. The General Assembly passed, during the 2010 session, House Bill 856 and Senate Bill 537 increasing the maximum highway speed limit to 70 mph on certain highways after a traffic engineering study. These bills revised Code of Virginia § 46.2-870.

Engineering studies were conducted on all segments of the interstates where the speed limit was increased. Studies included a review of crash patterns and history to select locations where increased speed would not exacerbate an existing problem. None of the segments recommended for the 70 mph speed limit are in high crash areas. Improvements to signage, rumble strips and guardrail are being made to further improve safety.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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