Nebraska nears speed boost on many highways

March 29, 2018

Keith Goble

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Many Nebraska roadways could soon get a bump in posted speeds for all vehicles.

Legislators in the one-chamber statehouse voted on Wednesday, March 28, to give second-round approval of a bill to increase vehicle speeds from 65 mph to 70 mph on four-lane expressways. Two-lane state highways would see an increase from 60 mph to 65 mph.

The bill, LB1009, needs a third vote in favor for it to move to the governor’s desk. The effort has the support of Gov. Peter Ricketts.

Before the first chamber vote, the bill was amended to remove a provision that would open the door to a speed increase from 75 mph to 80 mph on Interstate 80.

The change offered by Sen. Jim Smith, R-Papillion, was made following concerns voiced by the Nebraska Trucking Association. The group pointed out to legislators that many large vehicles have speeds capped at about 68 mph. As a result, an 80 mph posted speed would result in a wider speed differential.

Similarly, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says roadways are safest when all vehicles are permitted to travel at the same rate of speed.

Sponsored by Sen. John Murante, R-Gretna, the bill mandates that before any speed changes could take effect the Nebraska Department of Transportation would need to study the issue.

Advocates, including the governor, say the proposed changes would be good for business and tourism.

“This approach to speed limits addresses the many concerns we’ve heard about inconsistencies with the current system” Ricketts said in previous prepared remarks.

Murante has added that the increased speeds would bring into line the state with the 85th percentile speed – the speed at or below which 85 percent of vehicles travel in free-flowing traffic.

LB1009 needs one more vote of approval by the full unicameral Legislature before it can move to the governor’s desk.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nebraska, click here.

PrePass

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.