Ohio governor signs new speed limit increases into law, could affect local highways

Graphic by Allison Struck

Graphic by Allison Struck

Alexis Pfeifer

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law that would increase the speed limit on most Ohio interstate highways from 65 mph to 70 mph beginning July 1.

The transportation budget bill included the increase that would primarily affect rural stretches of interstate and may change the speed for interstates running through Portage County.

Kasich signed the two-year budget measure Monday at an event in Warrensville Heights, near Cleveland.

The law also set a $1.5 billion Ohio Turnpike bond sale that would use 90 percent of proceeds for projects in Northern Ohio. Additionally, the budget would cap toll rates for E-ZPass users who traveled 30 miles or less for 10 years.

Portage County Highway Patrol Sergeant Thomas Hermann thought the speed limit for I-76 could be increased, but he was unsure and stated he could not verify this until clarification was sent to him.

Hermann also was unable to determine if there would be an increase in speeding tickets on I-76 in Portage County if the speed limit was to increase.

While setting the speed for rural areas, the measure also set the maximum speed limit for interstates in urban areas at 65 mph and freeways in congested areas at 55 mph.

“I definitely think that it’s more risky,” said Alex Tharnish, freshman visual communication design major. “Areas like that, there’s not that much population, but there can still be a risk of an accident just as much as a more [populated] place.”

Tharnish added that more security would be needed with the increase inside and outside of the car, meaning seat belts and police observation to see the effect the speed limit change would have.

One student expressed concern about the new speed limit and how drivers could abuse the power.

“Honestly, I think people will go above the new limit,” said Sarah Walsh, sophomore pre-human development and family studies major. “There’s always people flying past me when I drive, so I can only imagine that they would take that further and be pretty unsafe about it.”

One student thought safety would only be an issue during harsh weather.

“You shouldn’t be going 70 [mph] in a snow storm,” said Nicolle Kovacs, junior communication studies major. “But if the speed limit allows it, some people will do it.”

Additionally, senior nursing major Audra Batdorff thought with the texting and driving issue currently occurring, it would be a bigger safety issue to raise the speed limit.

Sophomore fashion design student Eli Stover said safety is always an issue on interstates, but the change wouldn’t have an affect.

Hermann stated that safety wouldn’t be an issue for highway patrol with the increase of the speed limit.

Alexis Pfeifer is a city reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Alexis Pfeifer at [email protected].