Starting Wednesday, drivers will be allowed to legally drive a stretch of Texas 130, a toll road that skirts Austin, at up to 85 miles per hour. That’ll be the highest speed limit on any road in the United States, according to the Star-T.
The article mentions that the private company that built the road, and will benefit from collecting tolls from it until the year 2062, paid Texas an extra $100 million in return for the 85-mph speed limit. It’s far from the only road on which speeds have gone up (and anyone who’s driven the vast emptiness on Interstate 10 between San Antonio and El Paso is grateful for that.)
Since 2002, the Texas Department of Transportation — at the urging of state lawmakers — has raised the speed limit to 75 or 80 mph on nearly 6,507 miles of road.
Most of the increases have occurred since 2011, when a new state law broadened which roads qualified for higher speeds.
The speeds are now posted not only in rural areas but also on major roads such as Interstate 20 and Interstate 35 just outside Dallas-Fort Worth and other major metro areas.
On about 1 in 12 miles of Texas roadway — including interstates, small highways and farm-to-market roads — motorists may now legally travel at speeds once considered excessive and dangerous.
Safety experts in the U.S. and Europe warn that fatalities and injury accidents are likely to rise. Texas’ fatality rate is already higher than the national average, with 3,015 people killed on roads in 2011.
But the numbers indicate that the recent rise in speed limits to 80 mph on some roads hasn’t resulted in more fatalities. Will the same hold true for 85 mph?