Gov. Walker signs 70 mph speed limit bill, but drivers need to wait for the signs

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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:

Highway From To Miles
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.


  • Dmarie

    Oh great, now we will have more severe accidents because idiots will be going 80 & texting. Also in the winter, people will be flying by on icy & slippery roads even faster!

    • Duke Ganote

      REALLY?!? 70+ is entirely appropriate on Wisconsin’s rural interstates. For example, the 2013 fatality rate was 0.24 — FAR FAR LOWER than the rates of 1.06-to-1.76 deaths per 100-million travel miles on other rural roads. BTW: Rural interstates accounted for about 2% of Wisconsin’s traffic deaths in 2013 despite carrying almost 8% of travel-mileage.

      Well-informed citizens know the common causes of crashes are opposing traffic, crossing traffic, roadside hazards and sharp curves — all minimized on rural interstates. You’re more likely to die on the way TO the interstate than you are to die ON the interstate.

      GO 70!

      Federal Highway Administration “Highway Statistics”, 2013, Tables FI-10, FI-30
      “Speeding Counts On All Roads”, Federal Highway Administration

  • George Brunner

    I think we need a mandatory helmet law 4 motorcycles before we get the 70 mi. Speed Limit, can you see these people going that fast with no protection? It just means more bodies on the highway.

  • selfentitled

    I wonder what state/country he signed it from… We know he rarely makes a stop in Wisconsin

  • Alice K

    Funny how we are supposed to be such a progressive state, yet once again, one of the last states to enact a common sense law. Just once I’d like to us lead instead of always bring up the tail end of progress.

  • Tailgater

    Ever drive a car on the 5 going to San Diego son. Speed limit is 65. Average speed is 95 when not busy. Ever drive on the autobahn in Germany. Speed limit is prudent with equipment used. No you can’t take your prius and try that. You need approved equipment…Porsche BMW Ferrari..etc. etc. I’ve seen amercian cars on the Autobahn disentigrate after a couple hours at top speed. You can drive a BMW, Volvo, Mercedes at top speed 160 to 190 with no problem at all depending on the car and engine. Yes your chevy or olds will not last very long at top speeds, Therefore if you have a subpar vehicle stay in the right lane.

    • Duke Ganote

      Germany is the crossroads of Europe and hosts drivers from everywhere — including US service personnel, their families and their vehicles. Nevertheless, in 2013, the autobahn fatality rate of 1.9 deaths per billion-travel-kilometers compared favorably with the 4.7 rate on urban streets and 6.6 rate on rural roads.

  • joe

    I-94 Illinois State Line Milwaukee County Line i wouldn’t it freezes over fast. cant wait till fall 8pm -10pm can you say pile ups

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