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Speed limits likely to rise

Profile image for By Megan Gray / Staff Writer
By Megan Gray / Staff Writer

Denton County residents with the need to experience speed may soon be able to do so within legal limits.

The Texas Department of Transportation is considering a proposal to increase speeds limits on Interstate 35 — including the east and west branches — in Denton County to up to 75 mph in some areas.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments is recommending that TxDOT go even further by increasing speed limits along U.S. Highway 377 and U.S. Highway 380 in certain sections of the county, according to Chris Klaus, a senior program manager for NCTCOG.

Under the TxDOT proposal, speeds along portions of I-35W and I-35E in Denton County would go from 65 mph to 70 mph, while speeds on I-35 north of Denton would go up to 75 mph, according to Ryan LaFontaine, a spokesman for TxDOT.

The speed limit increases, if approved, could come as early as this summer, he said.

The proposal from NCTCOG would increase speed limits on additional roadways as well, as part of a estimated $90 million package to improve air quality and transportation within the metropolitan area, according to Klaus.

The NCTCOG proposal was approved Thursday afternoon by the Regional Transportation Council and will be forwarded to TxDOT. The state agency will have the final say on where speed limits will go up, officials said.

The move would restore speed limits that had been reduced in 2001. Officials at the time thought the reduced speeds would improve the air quality significantly in the area, but new studies by the Environmental Protection Agency show the emissions weren’t offset as much as initially proposed.

“This is strictly a proposal to increase the speed limits that were originally reduced,” Klaus said. “The final decision for which roads will be increased will be from TxDOT and those meetings are being set up as we speak.”

The increased speed limits are part of a regional transportation plan aimed at improving air quality and commutes for residents. But because North Texas’ ozone levels are higher than the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, any increases in highway emissions would have to be offset by other changes.

The Regional Transportation Council, which is under the purview of NCTCOG, is planning to fund efforts to cut car emissions, such as changing the timing on traffic lights, to help the state receive environmental clearance.

TxDOT’s proposal would also raise the speed limits on Central Expressway through Richardson and Collin County, Interstate 30 from the LBJ Freeway to Rockwall and I-20 from Highway 360 to Highway 175.

This article contains material from The Dallas Morning News, a sister publication to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.