Drivers traveling through Ohio will soon be experiencing life in the fast lane. The Ohio Department of Transportation recently unveiled a map detailing which stretches of Ohio highways will see a speed limit increase starting in July.
The jump from 65 mph to 70 mph on rural stretches of Ohio’s interstate roads makes Ohio one of 34 other states with posted speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Surrounding states Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and West Virginia all have 70 mph speed limits on some highways, according to ODOT.
The decision to raise the limits, which was approved April 1 by Gov. John Kasich, was met with mixed reviews by Interstate 77 travelers stopped at the West Virginia Welcome Center in Williamstown Tuesday. The change would mean those entering on Ohio on I-77 could maintain the 70 mph speed limit almost all the way to Canton.
“I think it’s a bad idea. There are enough people who get killed on the highways as is,” said Joann Donnenwirth, 50.
Donnenwirth, a nurse from Canal Fulton, Ohio, noted that many people already ignore the posted speed limits, so raising them would only compound the problem.
But 20-year-old A.J. Brettell, of Steubenville, said he is in favor of the change.
“I feel like 65 isn’t fast enough on the highways,” said Brettell, who was on his way to Florida with pal Ricky Rager.
Detroit, Mich. native Ryan Rogowski, 29, felt the same way. Now a North Carolina resident, Rogowski and family were traveling back home after visiting family in Detroit over the holiday weekend.
“I hate going through Ohio. It’s 65 the whole way and they are out gunning for you,” he said.
Ohio is the slow spot during the family trip and he will be glad to go a little faster on the next trip, he said.
Massillon, Ohio resident John Tapp does not understand why everyone is in such a rush.
“We’re not in any hurry,” said Tapp, 84, who was traveling with friend Violet Mazza.
But Tapp will not feel pressured by a faster speed limit.
“You can make the speed limit whatever you want, but I don’t have to drive it. It took me a while to go from 60 mph to 65. I just don’t like the high speeds,” he said.
The speed limit increase also affects tractor trailers. Those in the trucking business will likely benefit from the change, said Dennis Coe, Marietta terminal manager for R&J Trucking.
“It will be a good thing for the trucking community. We’re subject to federal rules on hours of service per day. The more miles you can travel, the more money you can make,” he noted.
R&J Trucking, which is headquartered in Boardman, Ohio, and operated a terminal along Ohio 7 between Marietta and Belpre, travels extensively on the Ohio interstates that will be affected by the change.
The change affects 570 of Ohio’s 1,332 miles of interstate. The change excludes interstate sections near “urbanized areas”, according to ODOT.
Meaning for example that the speed on Interstate 70 will increase from the Indiana border in the west to just outside the West Virginia border in the east, but will exclude sections in and around Dayton, Columbus, and Zanesville.
Interstates 71, 75, 76, and 90 will also see increases.
The Ohio Turnpike, which has used a 70 mph speed limit since April 1, 2011, will remain the same.