ST. PAUL, Minn. - About 340 miles of highways in northern and western Minnesota will get higher speed limits in the next few weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The two-lane highways, currently posted at 55 miles per hour, will increase to 60. The new speed limits take effect when new speed limit signs are posted.
In west central Minnesota, speeds will go up this month on the following highways:
· Highway 55 from the North Dakota line to Brooten
· Highway 54 from Elbow Lake to Highway 27
· Highway 79 from Elbow Lake to Interstate 94
· Highway 106 from Highway 10 to Deer Creek
The increases are the result of a 2014 legislative mandate for MnDOT to study the posted speed limits on all two-lane highways having a speed limit of 55 mph over a five-year period and make recommendations about changes. The first report of MnDOT’s findings was presented to the Legislature in January. Reports will be presented each year for the next four years.
All of the increases are based on a traffic and engineering investigation of each location, which looks at past crash rates, physical attributes of the highway such as shoulder widths and access points, and what speed drivers are currently driving.
“A speed study gives MnDOT the opportunity to review speed limits on all 55 mph roads in Minnesota and identify the ones that can support a higher speed limit without compromising safety,” said Julie Whitcher, assistant state traffic safety engineer.
In some cases, the study results in the speed limit are staying the same. About 570 miles were evaluated in 2014 and 340 miles were increased.
Minnesota has about 7,000 miles of two-lane, two-way roads that will be studied in the next four years. This year, about 1,500 miles of highways will be studied.