HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – You might soon be able to legally drive faster on certain stretches of interstate. Earlier this year, Governor Bob McDonnell signed legislation increasing the maximum allowable speed in Virginia to 70 miles per hour. The law takes effect July 1 and hinges on traffic engineering studies.
"Number of crashes, were the crashes speed related, were the crashes related to safety on the roads, were there enough guardrails in place, rumble strips--we really look at of factors before we would implement a 70 mile per hour speed limit," said VDOT spokesperson Dawn Eischen.
Only stretches of interstates with a current speed limit of 65 are being considered, and in the coming months, VDOT will study the roads in phases. First--and already underway, the more rural stretches of highway with few accidents and not much congestion. Busier roads will be looked at later.
"There are sections in the Richmond area being considered for 70 mile per hour speed limits. Stretches of 95, 295, so we are still in the process of implementing some of those studies," Eischen said.
Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie already has a 70 mile per hour limit. If other stretches of highway get upped, it isn't always a quick fix.
"It will take several months to implement some of these phases and you might see some construction on the roads for a speed limit increase, so there might be more guardrails or taking out existing guardrail and putting in new guardrail, so you might see a lot of work on these roadways to get them ready," Eischen added.
VDOT says it is too soon to know the final cost of these potential speed limit changes. Once the studies are complete, they will know how many changes will be made--and how much money they need to change out speed limit signs.
For more information about the speed limit increase legislation and a look at all the areas being considered for the change, you can visit VDOT's website.