Speed limit to increase for state highways, but not Chicago - New York News

Speed limit to increase for state highways, but not Chicago

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Starting January 1st, speed limits on 87 percent of Illinois' expressways will go from 65 to 70 miles an hour, under a bill signed by Governor Quinn last summer.

But a map released by the Illinois Department of Transportation shows the new, higher speed limit essentially skirts the Chicago region. Only a small portion of I-55 and I-57 in far southern Cook County, and I-94 in far northern Lake County, will see 70.

IDOT is refusing to raise the speed limit on Chicago's expressways, citing safety concerns.

But State Senator Jim Oberweis is among a number of lawmakers pushing IDOT to reconsider. Oberweis says studies show most traffic on Chicago expressways goes 10 miles over the limit anyway and artificially slowing a handful of drivers down is more dangerous than letting everyone drive a bit faster.

"That means that somebody who is being a good citizen and following the law is more likely to cause an accident and be involved in an accident than someone who is breaking the law and going 70 miles an hour," Oberweis said. "That's why I think it is fundamentally wrong for IDOT and the tollway to set those limits at unreasonable limits that nobody is paying attention to anyway."

Oberweis says if IDOT doesn't raise the limits on Chicago-area expressways voluntarily, he may sponsor a bill forcing them to do it.

Drivers had mixed reactions.

"I think it would be fine if it jumped to 70," one man told FOX 32. "I think we're all pretty good, safe drivers. Just keep it moving."

"I'm an over-the-road driver and I think 70 is good outside the city. Inside the city, it's too congested," another added. "It's just too congested in this area."

The law also includes a provision that allows police to charge drivers with excessive speeding for going more than 26 mph over the posted limit. The previous threshold had been slightly higher, at 31 mph.

Once the new law goes into effect, drivers will be able to cruise at 70 mph on roughly 87 percent of the state's interstate highway system. Just 28 percent of the Illinois Tollway's 286 miles of roadway will see the speed limit increase.

Roughly 900 new road signs -- costing $200,000 to make and install -- will arrive in early January. Until then, drivers should obey all posted speed limits, state traffic officials said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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