When the new 70 mile per hour law takes effect July 1, motorists will see new speed limits on 570 miles of Ohio’s interstate highways, though the current limits will remained unchanged in all of Montgomery County.
The Ohio Department of Transportation on Tuesday released a map detailing which segments of interstates will be marked as 70 mile per hour zones. Urban areas with heavier traffic, including Interstate 75 between Dayton and Cincinnati, will stay at 65 miles per hour or slower.
But the changes will impact those traveling east and west on I-70, north on I-75, and north or south on I-71. For example:
- I-70 from the Indiana state line to the West Virginia state line will be 70 miles per hour, except through Dayton, Columbus and Zanesville.
- I-75 from just south of Toledo to just north of Dayton will have a 70 limit, excluding Findlay and Lima.
- I-71 from the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge to the Cuyahoga-Medina county line, except through Columbus.
ODOT ordered 317 signs at a cost of $8,287 to mark the new limits. Eight signs say ‘reduce speed ahead,’ 48 are new signs, and 261 are pieces that overlay the current 65 mile per hour limit.
The faster speed limit was included in a two-year, $3.87 billion transportation budget signed into law by Gov. John Kasich earlier this year. The law change will also allow drivers to go 60 mph on two-lane state roads outside of city limits.
Since Congress repealed the national speed limit in 1995, 34 states have raised speed limits to 70 mph or higher on some of their roads, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Neighboring states Michigan, Indiana and West Virginia already have 70 mph as their rural freeway maximum speed limit. Kentucky law allows 70 mph on specific segments of highway.
Ohio increased freeway speed from 55 to 65 mph in 1996. The Ohio Turnpike Commission approved a 70 mph speed limit in 2010.
Ohio lawmakers have toyed with the idea of a faster speed limit in the past but met resistance from insurance companies and the Ohio Highway Patrol, which warned that higher speeds led to more traffic accidents. This time around, the patrol stayed neutral in the matter.
Environmental groups generally oppose higher speed limits because going faster consumes more gasoline. The Consumer Energy Center says gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 55 mph and slowing down from 65 mph to 55 mph can improve gas mileage by as much as 15 percent.