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Wisconsin DOT study reveals Interstates have lower crash rates than other roads

Highway travel
Highway travel

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Before the politicians spoke up, the state Transportation Department studied the idea of raising the speed limit to 70 on Wisconsin four-lanes.

The agency said all four rural Interstates – 94, 90, 43, and 39 – have lower crash rates than other four-lanes. So the DOT says those four would be the likely candidates for the higher speed limit, along with Highway 41 which is in the process of being improved to Interstate standards.

The agency did not recommend raising the current 65 speed limit on the Highway 29 expressway across the state’s mid-section, or other divided highways like 151, 53, 54, and 12.

Majority Assembly Republicans came out this week in favor of a 70 speed limit on rural freeways. Speaker Robin Vos released the DOT study, and said the agency was wise to look at it. He said Wisconsin will be the only Midwest state still at 65, after Illinois approved 70 this week.

Vos noted that the lower speeds in urban areas would not change.

Peg Schmitt of the DOT said the report speaks for itself. Her agency has not taken a position on the bill to raise speed limits.

Governor Scott Walker is non-committal as well, and the Senate’s GOP leader says it probably won’t come up in his chamber this fall.

At least a couple Democrats have expressed concerns. Milwaukee Senator Tim Carpenter and Appleton Representative Penny Bernard-Schaber want to know more from highway officials about the safety risks of a higher speed. 

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