A new law takes effect on Thursday that allows the Texas Department of Transportation to raise speed limits from 70 mph to 75 mph on any highway, as long as doing so would be “reasonable and safe.” And while the limits won’t be increased on September 1, a TxDOT spokesman says several roads in the Austin-area are likely to see their limits increased in the near future.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s firm yet, but I would say that it’s a reasonable expectation that those are the areas we will convert, especially the interstate,” TxDOT spokesman John Hurt told KUT News. “Our speed studies indicate that people are already driving that speed limit now.”
Hurt said these Central Texas roads are among those under consideration for higher speed limits:
- I-35 from Ben White to San Antonio
- I-35 from north of Georgetown to Salado
- SH 130 from I-35 north of Georgetown to Mustang Ridge
- Some areas in the Hill Country, like US 290 west of Fredericksburg, going out towards I-10.
Hurt says it will take “at least a couple of months” before the Texas Transportation Commission would approve the speed limit changes.
One section of House Bill 1353 that will take effect this week is the elimination of night time and truck speed limits.
Speed limits in Texas are set using something called the 85th percentile method. TxDOT’s Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones manual says, “a speed at or below which 85 percent of people drive at any given location under good weather and visibility conditions may be considered as the maximum safe speed for that location.”
Parts of West Texas already have 80 mph speed limits. Some of those highways could see their limits increased to 85 mph.