Transportation Officials To Decide Whether To Raise Speed Limits In Arkansas

Jul 31, 2017

An interchange for Interstates 40 and 55 in West Memphis.
Credit peggydavis66 / Wikimedia Commons

A study is to be completed by the end of summer on whether Arkansas should raise the speed limits on interstates in rural areas to 75-miles-per-hour.

One of the new state laws going into effect Tuesday, which was passed earlier this year by the Arkansas General Assembly, opens the possibility.

"It doesn’t mean we will go out and do it, it just enables us to," said Danny Straessle, spokesman for the department that on Tuesday will become known as the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

In recent months he says the department has been updating speed data on interstates throughout the state. Other factors like terrain will also be considered. Stretches of interstates that are straight, like I-40 in eastern Arkansas and I-49 in western Arkansas would be the most likely to get serious consideration, Straessle says.

"We will make some recommendations or at least will present some data and do some data-driven decision-making in whether or not we should be raising the speed limit in Arkansas, and if so, where?"

Some other states like Texas have already implemented 75 mile-per-hour limits, but Straessle says that won’t be a factor swaying the department.

The new logo for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department will formally change its name on Tuesday to the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The oversight of the department won’t change, Straessle says, but will allow the name of the department to be more consistent with federal language and other states.

There won’t be an immediate change in logos on signs and department vehicles. Straessle says it will be a gradual transition as equipment is replaced so that the name change won’t take money away from other projects.