Ohio drivers can move faster now that the speed limit on many interstates increased to 70 mph on Monday.
And to Clark County Engineer Jonathan Burr that also means the delayed widening of a 6.8-mile, four-lane section of Interstate 70 should also move faster.
“We need to get that bottleneck fixed,” Burr said.
The stretch of I-70 from Enon Road to Ohio 72 isn’t scheduled to be widened to six lanes until 2036 due to tight state budgets. The speed limit is now 70 mph on that stretch, which sees an average of 55,400 vehicles daily, according to data from the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee.
Ohio Department of Transportation officials couldn’t be reached for comment Monday afternoon but have previously said the speed limit was increased throughout Clark County to avoid it changing speeds rapidly.
Crews erected new or updated speed limit signs in Clark County on Monday.
Ohio became the 34th state to allow drivers on rural interstates to drive at least 70 mph. Other states with similar speed limit laws include neighboring Michigan, Indiana and West Virginia.
The speed limit increase applies to parts of interstates 70, 71, 75, 76, 77 and 90.
Pat Blackburn, an Ohio driver stopped at an I-70 rest stop in Clark County on Monday morning, said the faster speeds seem like a good idea to her.
“It will make my drive a little faster without running the risk of getting pulled over. Everybody wins,” she said.
The increase may change how some drivers navigate and travel the highway but some drivers said going faster is nothing new.
“I already go that or higher if I want. I can just do it legally now or go faster,” said Indiana driver Logan Matthews, also stopped at the Clark County rest area.
Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said he doesn’t anticipate much will change with the highways after the speed limit increase. Distracted and impaired drivers are a bigger concern when it comes to highway safety, he said.
“To my knowledge there haven’t been any problems because of the higher speeds and traffic seems to be moving fine,” Kelly said on Monday.
Not all drivers were in favor of the increased speed limits, including Theresa Harp, another Ohioan stopped at the I-70 rest area.
“They will have to deal with the consequences and whatnot if more crashes or deaths happen,” she said.
Indiana truck driver Daniel Crawford stopped at the rest area on Monday and said he likes the consistent speeds across states.
“Ohio is finally catching up with so many others states,” Crawford said. “I just feel like things moved a little slower here.”
With the higher speeds, drivers should make sure to give themselves enough stopping room between cars, Kelly said, and they shouldn’t drive impaired or text while behind the wheel.
“Going from 65 to 70 is not that big of an increase,” Kelly said. “People drive 70 or more already and our highways are already made for fast travel.”
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