On the Road
If 85 mph is legalized, will increased speed limits be good for Texas skies?
Everything is bigger in Texas, including our speed limits. The Texas House has approved a bill that would permit the raising of some highway speed limits to 85 mph — the highest in the nation — reports the Dallas Morning News.
Proposed by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, the measure was passed Wednesday as part of a new transportation bill. Once the Texas Department of Transportation conducts roadway studies (with its new, 20-percent reduced budget), the organization has the authority to raise the speed limit on specific lanes or broad lengths of road. The Senate is taking a similar bill under consideration.
While truckers and West Texas travelers may rejoice in the potential time savings, consider the toll the heightened speed will take on traffic injuries and fatalities, as well as the Texas environment. Revving up from 55 to 70 mph alone increases a car's carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent. And while each vehicle achieves an optimal fuel economy at a different speed, gas mileage plummets at speeds above 60 mph.
States the government website, FuelEconomy.gov, "You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas." While the heightened speed may feel freeing, the true beneficiary are gasoline suppliers.
Even the historically free-wheeling German autobahn may soon adjust after decades of speed indulgence. Last week, the Baden-Wuerttemberg region's Green Party won an election on the platform that reduces the speed limit of 75 mph in an effort to reduce vehicle emissions. (There is still no speed limit on portions of the autobahn.) Although Porsche and Mercedes-Benz call the state home, its residents aren't afraid to face the reality that excessive speeds damage the environment.
The new TXDOT bill also doubles funding for rail transportation projects from $35.2 million to $53 million — so perhaps in the years to come, you'll find yourself catching a train that takes you across the great state of Texas at upwards of 100 mph.