Yes, there is the possibility that the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) could raise the speed limit that was set at 55 mph based on the state’s initial studies of the highway’s design and characteristics.
“MDTA is considering further study on the speed limit, but there is no specific time frame for completing an engineering study,” said Kelly Melhem, a spokeswoman for the transportation authority, which operates Maryland’s toll roads, tunnels and bridges.
The unfettered traffic conditions on the new highway allow a quick east-west trip across the suburbs north of D.C., for those willing to pay the toll. But many drivers say they want to be able to drive faster.
Two segments of the connector opened last year. “Crews are still completing punch-list items that continue to change the existing roadway condition, so it is still a bit early to change the speed limit based on the short operational time that the roadway has been open,” Melhem said in an e-mail.
The connector is a Maryland route (MD 200) and was not built to Interstate standards, as was I-95, where the speed limit north of D.C. is 65 mph.
Melhem said engineers would need to study the design, actual operations and safety history of the connector. “At this point, safety history would be limited due to the fact that the road has not been open a full year,” she noted.
How much of a time savings are we talking about, anyway? The connector was designed to meet the engineering standards of a 60 mph highway, Melhem said. Raising the speed limit from 55 to 60 would save drivers less than a minute and a half across the 16 tolled miles of the highway, she said.