By CAITLIN DeLUCA
LANSING — Michigan could see some fast changes coming to its freeways.
Motorists could travel up to 75 mph on some stretches of the state’s rural highways under bills in the Senate. And on gravel county roads, the speed limit would be brought down from 55 mph to 45 mph in counties with at least 1 million residents (Oakland and Wayne).
The original legislation included the possibility of 80 mph, but after further studies were done, the Department of Transportation found that Michigan roads weren’t built for those speeds.
The State Police supports the changes, Sgt. Tim Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said raising the speed limit would reduce the number of drivers pulled over for speeding.
“It will take some people out of the mix in terms of enforcement if they are driving closer to 75 (mph),” Fitzgerald said.
“We can target faster moving drivers now, and that’s kind of the rationale of how we are going to handle it,” Fitzgerald said.
As for the unpaved roads, Ed Noyola, deputy director of the County Road Association of Michigan, said it has to do with the changing dynamics of the population in certain counties.
“Urban areas with gravel roads have heavier populations. It’s kind of hard for their law enforcement to do anything other than say, ‘as long as they’re driving the speed limit it’s okay,’” Noyola said.
This proposed change has not garnered complete support.
Michigan AAA President Steve Wagner has been vocal about his opposition since the bill was introduced.
“Given the current conditions of our roadways, we question the safety of traveling the current speed limit, let alone driving at increased speeds,” Wagner wrote in an op-ed.
Rep. Bradford Jacobsen, R-Oxford, said that the bill he introduced in the package was about safety.
Certain stretches of road were designed for 75, Jacobsen said.“That’s the speed people feel safe travelling a.”
The bill was approved by the House and is now in the Senate.
By CAITLIN DeLUCA