Back to 75 West of Rapid? State Transportation Commission May Back Away from 80

The state Transportation Commission has previously mentioned the possibility of temporarily rolling back the new 80-mile-per-hour speed limit on Interstate 90 around Sturgis. Now Bob Mercer reports that, baed on citizen feedback and safety concerns, the Transportation Commission may permanently reduce the speed limit on I-90 between Rapid City and the Wyoming border to 75 miles per hour:

State Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said his department has been receiving messages from people about the 80 mph limit.

Generally, changes in speed zones draw little public comment or none at all.

“I guarantee there will be public testimony on that next month,” Bergquist said.

Several commission members said they’re hearing from citizens about the change to 80 mph. One commissioner, Ed Seljeskog of Rapid City, favors rolling back to 75 mph west of Rapid City.

He referred to “the recent calamity” in Wyoming on Interstate 80 that saw two days of major pile-ups, including some trucks afire.

“I’m really uneasy,” Seljeskog said [Bob Mercer, “State Transportation Commission: Some of Interstate 90 Might Return to 75 MPH,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.04.24].

O.K., the Wyoming “calamity” involved fog, slush, and 22,000 gallons of flammable material.

But slush or no, I can see the logic of lowering sped limit on the Black Hills arc of I-90. Unlike all points east, those 55 miles of I-90 have real curves and a higher concentration of busy town exits. Driving that road requires some actual thinking.

Besides, when Rep. Brian Gosch (R-32/Rapid City) snuck the 80-mph speed limit into the big road tax bill without prior notice, research, or public testimony last month, he was thinking of getting from Rapid to Pierre and back faster, not whooshing off to Wyoming. He won’t care if the folks to his north and west have to slow down. The smart District 31 contingent will just zip through Sturgis and race to Pierre unmonitored on Highway 34.

The Transportation Commission will hold a public hearing on this speed limit change and others on May 28 in Pierre.

10 Responses to Back to 75 West of Rapid? State Transportation Commission May Back Away from 80

  1. barry freed

    The new speed limit is working perfectly. Nobody is asking what was done with the money raised by the last three years of increased taxes that nearly doubled the price of our plates, nor what will be done with the latest round. The only discussion is the 80 mph limit and how it should be implemented.
    The 80 mph limit is the cat tossed into the dog pen (us) to stop the possible dog fight over increased taxes.

  2. Five miles per hour? Really?! The anti-everything crowd has too much time on their hands. Most folks drive 80 on the interstate anyway.

    The design specification for the interstate (yes, even between RAP & WY) is for sustained speeds of 85 mph – same as that of the autobahn, much of which has speed limits of 140 kph.

    If one wants to make the interstates safer then support the national truckers association (European-borrowed) idea and put a 65 mph (100kph) trackable, inspectable governor on all large trucks. This will keep trucks in the right lane and will moderate their yoo-yoo speeds as they lug loads uphill and race downhill under a load. Improve signs. Hello, Edison invented the light bulb like a century ago – so leverage it by making speed limit signs automated – setting and displaying the speed limit commensurate with road conditions. (Yes, it’s big brother thinking for you – but too many of you on the road prove that you can’t or won’t.) Through cities (RAP, FSD) sign thru traffic to the left lane. This measure is necessary because Americans insist on using interstate highways for intracity, intracounty, and intrastate highways. Thus to make the interstate highways safer and LESS expensive, close redundant, unnecessary exits – forcing yoo-hooing local traffic back on local roads.

    Unscientific polls in the RAP Journal showed overwhelming support for the 80 mph speed limit. It will be the height of hubris for unelected, unaccountable DOT bureaucrats to change it on rural sections where the speed limit was 75mph.

    We should be far more aggressive with rolling back the near-100% registration “tax” increase that Barry wrote of above, and its subsidization of the exponentially road damaging heavy trucks, than we should get excited about a 5 mph speed limit change.

  3. Bob Newland

    On his jaunts to Pierre to do all the damage he can, Gosch most likely only drives I90 to Wall, then takes the 2-lane to Pierre through Philip. No, I think he was looking forward to the 2016 election, after which he will have to drive to Beulah for his cigarettes and liquor.

  4. Shirley Harrington-Moore

    The last time we did this, it was ‘discovered’ that tourism dollars dwindled, if I recall correctly. Has that changed?

  5. Hello “John”: Is “anti-everything” the best you can do to present an argument to those that oppose the new 80 mph speed limit? There are zillions of things that are designed to points beyond their optimum or “best usage” point. Just say’n…..I don’t think that is a very good argument either. I think there are some zones in South Dakota where 80 is ok, but there is definitely zones where 80 is not a good idea. So to pass a bill say’n LET’S DO 80 for the state…not so much. I think we need smarter people in Pierre.

  6. Douglas Wiken

    “snuck”? How about “sneaked”.

    The roughly 6 percent speed increase adds about 10% to the crash energy. I don’t remember momentum calculations, but suspect they have to do with time it takes for energy to be absorbed. Crashing faster and decelerating in the same time would likely increase damage as well. The speed increase may be linear, but crash danger may increase exponentially. At 80mph, a 4 hour drive gets you 320 miles. At 75, a 4 hour and 16 minute drive gets you the same distance.

    My guess is that 16 minutes will come with a few dollars of extra fuel expense and a bit more tension and tiredness at the end of the trip. Of course, there is the argument one of my high school friends made in a driver training course that did not go over very well, “Getting off the highway in less time reduces the time for somebody to drive into you.”

  7. bearcreekbat

    There is yet another safety issue that apparently was not considered by our legislature. Semi-truck tires are not designed for speeds over 75 mph, yet the 80 mph speed limit allows truck drivers in a hurry to deliver a load to drive at 80 mph, an unsafe speed for everyone on the road that comes anywhere near the truck.

    Sometimes driving a mere 5 mph more can be too much more.

  8. Roger Elgersma

    Good point Barry. When they appoint someone leader in the legislature because they are a slick willy, rather than because they are for what is right, makes me wonder if any think the public has a brain.

  9. Barry is absolutely right about the speed limit serving its purpose. It wasn’t meant to get anyone anywhere faster; it was meant to keep us from talking about the higher taxes Republicans had to approve to catch up with road repairs.

  10. RC to Summerset is like a bunch of nitwits in blindfold trying to pin the tail on the donkey. 70 is more than their skillset can safely deliver.

    After 10,000 miles in four months from coast to coast, I’ve yet to see speed limits like that, close to any populated area.