Proposal to raise N. Texas speed limits troubles some police - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Proposal to raise N. Texas speed limits troubles some police

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North Texas drivers who have a need for more speed might get their fix in a legal way -- there's a proposal to raise the speed limit five miles per hour on several highways.

While it may seem like minimal increase, some police agencies are expressing concern.  

Many drivers seem to have their own ideas of what speed limits in North Texas should be, but the idea of raising it by five miles an hour comes from the North Central Texas Council of Governments because vehicles now get better mileage at higher speeds, and pollution is no longer a concern.  

[Click here to see the list of proposed highways]

"It's more of a safety thing," said Chris Klaus, the senior project manager with North Central Texas Council of Governments.

He says the measure would also provide a safer blend for drivers coming into North Texas where speed limits in outlying areas are higher -- 70, 75, and even 80 miles per hour in some areas.

"We took a conservative approach that we just went with the five miles and felt that, from an engineering aspect, that you are not going to impact the safety at all just by a few miles an hour," said Klaus.

However, Balch Springs Police Chief Ed Morris says even five miles an hour is a bad idea for the short stretch of 635 in his city.

"It could make that big of a difference, yes," said Morris. "The faster you go, when you do have an accident, it makes the accident that much worse. The crash could be a whole lot worse, even two or three miles an hour."

Morris says in the last two years, they've had four fatalities on 635. Last year, there were more than 200 crashes. So far this year, there have been 44 crashes.

"The average speed over the speed limit right now is 11 to 20 miles an hour on 635," said Morris. "We've had some as high as 80, and higher than that, too." 

On Thursday, the regional transportation council is expected to vote and approve raising the speed limits, but the state and federal government still have to sign off on the measure.

If all goes well, the new speed limits could be in place by the year's end.

TxDOT says if any law enforcement agencies like Balch Springs have concerns, they need to consult with TxDOT.

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