IL raises top speed limit to 70 mph, but will it apply to Chicagoland?

There seems to be some debate about a law (signed earlier this week by Governor Quinn) which raised the maximum speed limit to 70 mph.  The Governor says that the law only applies to rural areas, its sponsor, Rep. Oberweis, says it will apply to highways throughout the state.

My guess:  don’t expect to drive (legally) at 70 mph in the Chicago area anytime soon.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

BY DAVE MCKINNEY

Springfield Bureau Chief

Last Modified: Aug 20, 2013 11:18PM

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois raised its speed limit Monday on its vast interstate and tollway highway system to 70 mph.

But don’t go flooring it just yet until the politicians that put this new law on the books figure out whether higher speeds were really meant for the Dan Ryan, the Stevenson, the Tri-State and urban super-highways like them – or just the ones cutting through the state’s corn and soybean fields Downstate.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who defied the advice of members of his own cabinet, signed the higher speed-limit legislation into law Monday but insisted the move from 65 mph to 70 mph will affect only rural interstates when it goes into effect Jan. 1.

But one of the bill’s chief legislative architects was as equally certain in his interpretation that the legislation would hike speed limits by as much as 15 mph on the 55-mph routes that run through the heart of Chicago, the densely-populated collar counties and the Metro East area near St. Louis – unless county boards in those areas opt out of the higher speed limits.

The back-and-forth set off confusion involving one of the state’s pre-eminent traffic-safety groups and officials in the collar counties, who seemed perplexed at being given any role in the discussion over higher speed limits.

“The governor’s press release misstated the facts,” said state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, who insisted it was his intent for the higher speed limit to apply to even clogged arteries in Chicago and suburbia.

“The bill moves the speed limit to 70 mph for all interstates and tollways in Illinois,” Oberweis said, with an aide to Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) backing up Oberweis’ interpretation.

But late Monday, a Quinn aide insisted Oberweis was wrong in how he was reading his own legislation.

“The law is the law is the law,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.

The dispute between the governor’s office and Oberweis revolved around a key phrase permitting the higher speed limit “outside an urban district” and new power given to Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties to opt out of the higher speed limits.

But that opt-out language had officials in some of those counties befuddled about how the law even applied to them since they seemed to lack rural stretches of interstate – or, for that matter, any roads with 65-mph speed limits — and have never had authority to set speed limits on expressways or tollways.

“Our interpretation is that this law does not impact our county highway system — 55 remains the maximum speed limit along the county’s roadways,” said Johnna Kelly, a spokeswoman for the DuPage County Board.

“The county doesn’t have jurisdiction over the tollway and IDOT roads,” she said.

A top Will County official echoed those sentiments.

“I think there’s a little confusion,” said Anastasia Tuskey, a spokeswoman for Will County Executive Lawrence M. Walsh. “Our county highway director said we can’t regulate any state highway speeds.”

You can read the whole story at http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/22032176-418/gov-quinn-gives-green-light-to-70-mph-speed-limit-on-highways-outside-of-cook.html

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