Going slowly too quickly could be a problem

Published 4:11 pm Saturday, May 20, 2017

On Tuesday, May 9, The Port Arthur City Council discussed reducing the speed limit from 75 miles an hour to 55 on the stretch of Hwy. 69 between Jimmy Johnson and Hwy. 73.
While I agree that the 75-mile an hour speed limit that begins just south of Beaumont and runs all the way to Highway 73 cloverleaf on Highway 69 is too fast and should be reduced, making a 20-mile an hour drop in one area doesn’t seem safe either. Especially when many commuters drive much higher than the posted limit.
The following information was taken from txdot.gov on setting speed limits.
“Texas law requires that speed limits on state roadways be set at the state maximum, unless traffic and engineering studies show a need to alter a speed limit for safety reasons.
“Maximum Speed Limit
“The law sets the maximum at 70 mph, but allows the Texas Transportation Commission to establish a maximum speed limit of 75 mph (80 mph or 85 mph if the highway is designed to accommodate that speed) on the highway system if that speed is determined to be safe and reasonable after a traffic or engineering study. A maximum speed limit of 80 mph within 10 counties on Interstate 10 and Interstate 20 is also permitted.
“City governments and TxDOT must conduct traffic and engineering studies according to requirements outlined in TxDOT’s publication, Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones (www.onlinemanuals.txdot.gov), when setting a speed limit on the state highway system. Speed limits on state highways may be set by the Commission or by a city if the highway is within city limits.”
Last year Highway 73 saw a speed reduction from 75 miles an hour to 65 miles an hour. However that reduction doesn’t seem to slow down the majority of drivers I see when on that highway. Many are still driving well over 80 miles an hour.
And what about I-10 west of Winnie? The posted speed limit is 65 miles an hour. Yet, the traveling speed for many is over 80 miles an hour there as well.
On Highway 69, there is no doubt that a reduction in the speed limit is needed.  We have traffic accidents that injure or kill commuters regularly along that stretch of road.
I am of the opinion that, to ensure the least amount of accidents due to a speed reduction, the reduction needs to begin as far north as Spurlock. There, the speed limit could easily be reduced to 65 miles an hour. Then, at Jimmy Johnson, take the next step reducing to 55 miles an hour. Preparing drivers for the slowdown at 39th Street on Memorial or their interchange at Highway 73.
Understandably this will mean getting more communities involved than just Port Arthur. But to me it would be much better than a quick 20 mile an hour drop.
The bigger question is, how will a speed reduction be enforced? Because without that, this speed reduction will be a moot point, as is on Highway 73 and I-10.
Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News. Contact him at rich.macke@panews.com.

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