Wisconsin could become the last Midwestern state to join the 70 mph club

October 16, 2013

(Credit: Karen Bleier/AFP-Getty Images)

Wisconsinites could soon join their faster-driving Midwestern neighbors.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin’s state Assembly passed a bill increasing highway speed limits to 70 miles per hour. If the state Senate and governor sign off, Wisconsin would become the last state in the Midwest to do so.

“We are an island all the way from Oregon to Pennsylvania,” the bill’s author Rep. Paul Tittl (R) told The Journal Sentinel.

  • Four Midwestern states — Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota — have maximum speed limits of 75 miles per hour, according to data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Laws vary by state and some set different limits for cars and trucks on rural interstates, urban interstates and other roads. Seven Midwestern states have at least one maximum speed limit of 70 mph. And then there’s Wisconsin, currently at 65.
  • The nine Northeastern states are more uniform; all but one have 65 mph maximums. In Maine, drivers can go as fast as 75 mph.
  • Eleven of the 16 states in the South have 70 mph maximums, while two have set maximum speeds at 75 and another two at 65. One state, Texas, has 85 mph maximums, but only in some places.
  • The West is a mixed bag. Seven of the 13 states have 75 mph maximums. Two have a 70 mph max. And one each has a 55, 60, 65 and 80 mph maximum.

The Wisconsin bill passed the state Assembly in a 63 to 32 vote. Lawmakers are in session through Thursday and return in November, and if the Senate signs off on it, the bill and other would be sent to the governor on Dec. 12.

Here’s a state-by-state map of speed-limit maximums:

Notes:

The 70 mph maximum in Illinois on some roads don’t go into effect until Jan. 1.

In Alabama, Kentucky, Utah and Texas, the maximums only apply to certain highways segments.

Limits in Rhode Island and West Virginia are determined by appointed officials, not state law.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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