Speed Limit Increases in Virginia

Virginia will increase speed limits to 70 mph on 680 miles of interstates by the end of the year.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced the change Wednesday. It will affect interstates located in areas that are rural or less populated. It includes segments of Interstate 66, from Faquier County to Interstate 81 and Interstate 95 from south of Fredricksburg to Ashland and from Prince George County to the North Carolina border.

The Virginia Department of Transportation outlined the plan at a meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board on Wednesday.

State officials said in a statement that the change should help shortern commute times and allow traffic “to move at a more consistent speed.”

VDOT considered raising the limit on 786 of the commonwealth’s 1,119 interstate miles, reviewing historical data and patterns and consulting with Virginia State Police, officials said. But engineers determined that the speed limit should remain at 65 mph on 189 miles of interstate because they were located in urban areas, had high crash histories or were located in one of the commonwealth’s highway safety corridors.

The changes will be phased in, with the work scheduled to be finished by the end of the year and including guardrail upgrades and the addition of extra signage.

The plan includes most of Interstate 81 and sections of Interstates 64, 66, 77, 85 and 95.

A law passed earlier this year by the General Assembly gives VDOT the authority to raise the speed limit on interstates and other limited-access highways.

A 27-mile stretch of Interstate 295 near Richmond was the first section of Virginia interstate where the speed limit was raised to 70 mph this summer.

The law also reduced to just 11 mph the margin between the legal speed limit and a reckless driving citation with a mandatory court appearance, prohibitive fines and possible jail time. Virginia law defines any driver going 81 mph or more as reckless. Originally posted:http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dr-gridlock/2010/10/vdot_recommends_higher_speed_l.html?hpid=newswell