Speed limit raised on Interstate 295

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – 65 mph is so yesterday on a central Virginia highway. A new law now allows you to drive a little faster, and get away with it.

The new speed limit is 70 miles-per-hour on a stretch of Interstate 295. But we wanted to know just how much difference will the new speed limit make?

Mike Jacobs has a confession to make.

"I know I go more than 70," Jacobs said.

And Ashley Cramer is a witness.

"I'll have people passing me at least going 80/85," Cramer said.

70 miles-per-hour isn't exactly a new concept. But at least now, it's legal. After months of waiting, a new law permits speeds up to 70 mph without risking a ticket.

"We believe that it will help improve traffic safety by trying to get more vehicles traveling at a uniform rate of speed," said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

The new speed limit applies to a 26-mile stretch of I-295 between Prince George and Henrico.

"It'll make the trip a whole lot faster," Cramer said.

"You get to where you gotta go a little faster," said Joseph Robinson in agreement.

Actually, drivers will save only about a minute and a half. But that's still good enough for some folks.

"Helps out with the people that are late for work," Robinson said.

I-295 won't be the last highway to go faster. Virginia is studying other stretches of highway in rural areas. That means highways through downtown Richmond are likely to be left alone.

"We would not want to raise the speed limit in urban areas, for various reasons, primarily because of the number of interchanges, and weaving and merging movements that occur there," said VDOT's Thomas Hawthorne.

For now, there's a little bit of trust involved with the new speed limit.

"The average speed will probably go to 70 to 75," suggested Chris Maslak.

Local leaders say the authorities will be on the lookout, for those who break it.

"Just because the speed limit has been raised to 70 mph on certain parts of Virginia's rural interstate highways, does not mean that you can drive 80 miles-per-hour," Bolling said.

The next stretch of highway up for a possible increase in speed limit is Interstate 64, west of Route 288 in greater-Richmond, but a timetable on when that change might happen is not yet firmly in place.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.