I am responding to the latest proposal by the legislature in my home state of Connecticut to raise the speed limit on some of our limited access highways to an all-time high of 75 mph. What were they thinking?
There must be a generation in Hartford that knows nothing of the history of limited access highways in Connecticut. With the exception of loops (I-291 and I-691) the Interstate highways in Connecticut were built before the national 55 mph speed limit (1973 – 1997) was enacted as an energy saving matter by the Richard Nixon administration. Even in the early 1960s no stretch of limited access highway in the Nutmeg State had speed limits higher than 70 mph. In the case of I-95, better known in the days as the Connecticut Turnpike, the speed limit was 60 mph and 55 for trucks and buses; increasing to 70 mph east of Lake Saltonstall in Branford (east of New Haven). How can anyone propose speed limits higher than the roadways were even built to handle—if 75 mph was unworkable in 1958 with about a tenth as much traffic as today, there is no way it would work now, especially on highways that accommodate tractor trailers were jackknifing on a highway with only two lanes of moving traffic in each direction makes the highway a deathtrap.
While the state’s cracked research department studied traffic in places like North Dakota and determined there are less accidents where speeds are higher—North Dakota? Sure, 75 mph makes sense in North Dakota where you can drive 50 miles and count the vehicles you are sharing the road with on your fingers. Then you want to be going fast enough so a car behind you does not get to close and can’t brake in time. But not with the volume traffic and the state of the roads in the northeastern I-95 corridor. I would rather see a lower speed limit for trucks and buses as it once was.
The real acts of buffoonery deal with why are state legislators debating something as ludicrous as this when they should be debating the important issues; like, especially, the state’s finances! I think a lot of this is about with higher speed limits, higher fines can be levied to violators. I don’t get it! There is no reason why you can’t raise speeding ticket fines without raising the speed limit. Furthermore, with higher speed limits and more speeders paying more fines, you need, you guessed it, more state troopers! And Governor Malloy has reduced the size of the police force, as many municipalities did, to save money and attempt to achieve a balanced budget. And police, fire, and ambulance are the LAST things you cut. Nonetheless, this is the mentality of our current-day general assembly.
Between liquor on Sunday, 75 mph speed limits, and higher taxes that the unemployed and struggling families can’t pay right now, they should be focusing on sensible spending cuts. Seems as though no one can prioritize anymore.