Higher Pa. speed limits coming, but not right away

     (Michael Conroy/AP Photo, file)

    (Michael Conroy/AP Photo, file)

    The maximum speed limit for certain Pennsylvania roads went up by five miles per hour this fall due to a small change to a big new state law,  but the higher speed limits may take a while to arrive.

    Motorists hoping for a faster trip home got their wish when lawmakers increased the maximum speed limit in Pennsylvania from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour as part of the transportation funding bill signed into law last month.

    But PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said no one should expect the higher speed limit to become the new norm.

    “I don’t think it’s going to be a widespread thing where you’re going to see an entire interstate going to 70 miles an hour,” Shoch told reporters Friday. “But again, we’re going to start that assessment and we’ll probably have answers in the spring on that.”

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    PennDOT still has to take a look at each roadway’s accident history and safety to see if a higher speed limit would be safe.

    “Our urban areas where we’re 55 miles an hour, we’re not changing any of those,” Schoch said. “Basically you’re talking about looking at the areas where we’re 65, do we want to go to 70? And we’ll see which ones meet criteria and which ones we don’t have any safety concerns with.”

    The highest speed limit in Pennsylvania has been 65 miles per hour.

    Schoch says construction projects authorized by the transportation bill will get underway as early as this spring.

    “We’re starting to work through that now and I think by sometime in the winter-spring we’ll be starting to prioritize projects, so we’ll start putting timelines together,” Schoch said.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal