The speed limit on several sections of Utah’s interstate highways could soon be increased to 80 miles per hour.
Republican Representative Jim Dunnigan of Taylorville is behind a bill that would expand Utah’s 80 miles per hour speed test zones. Currently they all fall within an area between Nephi and Cedar City on I-15. HB 83 would add to that section and create new ones on I-15 between Brigham City and the Utah-Idaho border and on I-80 between Tooele and the Utah-Nevada border. The bill passed unanimously out of the House Transporation Committee, but members were concerned about the safety risks of a higher speed limit. Dunnigan defended the bill, the proposal is based on engineering and research.
“85% of the drivers were already going almost the speed that we are suggesting," he says. "So, that’s the natural flow. And there’s engineering science behind, you want to set a speed limit of the natural flow of traffic.”
Another concern was that higher speeds could result in more air pollution. But Dunnigan says that isn’t an issue either.
“The areas that we are proposing to increase the speed limit are the open areas of Utah, the wide open spaces," he says. "We’re not doing in the urbanized areas along the Wasatch front. This is where we have the inversion and the lousy air.”
Even if passed by both the House and the Senate the law does not mean that every part of the highways included in the expansion would see an increase. Like the current test section only stretches deemed safe will see changes.