A bill giving the chief of the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation authority to designate an 80 mph speed limit on parts of the state’s Interstate highways cleared a committee this week and will now go to the state House for debate, according to a report in the Tribune.
WYDOT chief engineer Delbert McOmie likened the bill to a pilot program in which he would work with WYDOT engineers to determine the best stretches of Interstate on which to introduce the 80 mph speed limit. McOmie told the Tribune that the Interstate highways were built 50 years ago and may not withstand the increased load without some damage.
The bill doesn’t mandate WYDOT to authorize the higher speed limit, he said. However, it does give the WYDOT superintendent authority to do so on Interstate highways. Currently, the superintendent only has authority to lower the speed limit.
Most of the speeding citations issued by troopers are for drivers traveling 79 to 80 mph, according to Col. John Butler, interim director of the Wyoming Highway Patrol, who added that currently if a driver is traveling less than 6 mph over the speed limit, the infraction doesn’t go on the driver’s record. “We really have a tolerance of pretty close to 80 miles per hour,” Butler said, in areas where the speed limit is currently 75 mph.
However, Lubnau said, the 6 mph leeway will not be granted in segments with the 80-mph speed limit if the measure passes.
Sam Powell, director of the Wyoming Peace Officers Assn., pointed out “not all people will comply driving 80 miles per hour.” Some will consider 80 mph the bottom threshold, he said.