Gov. Walker signs 70 mph speed limit bill, but drivers need to wait for the signs
MADISON (AP/WITI) — Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill on Wednesday, May 20th that allows state transportation officials to raise the speed limit to 70 mph on some Wisconsin roads.
Under the law, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) can raise the speed limit to 70 mph only on four-lane roads that have entrance and exit ramps. They can’t raise the limit on roads with at-grade access.
WisDOT will oversee installation of about 470 new speed limit and related signs along 726 miles of rural Interstate in Wisconsin. Motorists are advised the 70 mph speed limit will not take effect until a specific highway segment is posted at the higher speed. Drivers are asked to be alert, to slow down and move over for county highway crews as they install the new signs along rural Interstates beginning next month.
WisDOT is also reminding motorists:
- Posted speed limits apply when travel conditions are ideal. State law requires drivers to adjust their speed to what is “reasonable and prudent” based on travel conditions. Factors such as snow, rain, construction or heavy traffic require reduced speeds.
- The state’s Move Over Law requires drivers to slow down or move over any time they see highway maintenance vehicles, law enforcement, other emergency responders or tow trucks stopped along the highway with warning lights flashing. Violations can result in a $263 citation.
Rural interstate segments in Wisconsin where speed limits will be raised to 70 mph:
|I-94||Illinois State Line||Milwaukee County Line||25|
|I-94||I-39/90 in Dane County||WIS 164 in Waukesha County||57|
|I-39/90||Illinois State line||US 12 in Dane County||41|
|I-39/90/94||US 151 in Dane County||I-39 split in Columbia County||22|
|I-39||I-90/94 split in Columbia County||WIS 54 in Portage County||65|
|I-39||WIS 66 in Portage County||Bus 51 in Marathon County||26|
|I-90/94||I-39/90/94 in Columbia County||I-90 in Monroe County||63|
|I-90||I-94 in Monroe County||US 53 in La Crosse County||37|
|I-94||I-90 in Monroe County||US 53 in Eau Claire County||77|
|I-94||WIS 312 in Eau Claire County||WIS 35 in St. Croix County||55|
|I-43||County T in Ozaukee County||WIS 29 in Brown County||91|
|I-43||I-39 in Rock County||WIS 164 in Waukesha County||54|
|I-41||South Washington County Line||WIS 441 in Winnebago County||93|
|I-41||WIS 441 in Outagamie County||WIS 172 in Brown County||20|
Brief history of speed limits in Wisconsin:
- Prior to 1947, it was unlawful to operate a vehicle “carelessly and heedlessly” with “wanton disregard” of the safety of others.
- In 1949, state law specified a 65 mph speed limit during daytime hours, 55 mph at night, and 45 mph for trucks.
- In 1962, as more of the Interstate system was completed, speed limits on Interstate highways were set at 70 mph during daylight hours, 60 mph at night and 55 mph for trucks.
- In 1973, as an energy conservation measure, the U.S. Congress adopted a national maximum speed limit of 55 mph.
- In 1987, Congress allowed states to adopt a 65 mph speed limit on rural Interstates.
- In 1996, state law extended the 65 mph speed limit to certain freeways and expressways.