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North Dakota lawmakers put the brakes on 80 mph interstate speed limit

North Dakota lawmakers put the brakes on 80 mph interstate speed limit

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The North Dakota House has put the brakes on a bill to raise the speed limit on interstate highways from 75 mph to 80 mph.

Another section of the bill would have set a minimum 40 mph speed on the two interstates.

House Bill 1315 was split into two sections -- one on the maximum limit, one on the minimum, Prairie Public reported.

Rep. Greg Westlind, R-Cando, argued against the higher speed limit, even though he acknowledged he sets his cruise control to 82 mph on the interstates.

"The irony is -- the faster you go, the more fuel you burn, and the less likely you will survive a crash," Westlind said. "This just doesn't add up to me."

Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, countered that the state Transportation Department has been open to the idea of increasing the speed, at least on stretches of the interstates.

"It's very doable," he said. "There's areas of the two interstates where there are no problems doing 80 mph."

Ron Henke, the Transportation Department’s deputy director for engineering, previously testified before a House committee that the state’s highways are designed for current posted speed limits. He said an engineering analysis would have to be done on Interstates 94 and 29 to determine if the roads would be safe with the increased speeds.

Henke estimated it would cost about $500,000 to upgrade signage along the interstates to reflect the higher speeds. Legislative staff estimated the cost at $650,000.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol took a neutral position on the measure.

Ruby said that when South Dakota adopted an 80 mph interstate limit, the number of speeding tickets dropped. He said that's the speed people were already driving.

That portion of the bill failed on a 56-38 vote. The second part failed, as well.

The bill was the latest of many efforts over the years primarily by Republican lawmakers to allow North Dakota drivers to be heavier-footed.

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