Need for speed

SHSU students who make the drive along Interstate 45 to Houston may want to note the new speed limit soon to be in effect for areas along the freeway.The 55 mph limit will be raised up to 65 mph within the next thirty days. In May of this year, a new speed limit went into effect, reducing speed limits on freeway areas in Houston and surrounding counties from 70 mph to 55 mph. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the speed reduction was imposed in order to improve the air quality surrounding Houston and meet federal ozone standards. However, federal vehicle emissions testing proved that the 55 mph limit would not make a significant difference in air quality.The old 70 mph areas in Houston will now have speed limits of 65 mph. Existing limits of 65 mph will be reduced to 60 mph. Many SHSU students have permanence residence in Houston, and are glad to see the speed limits increase.”It needs to go back up to 70 though,” said senior Pam Bosse. “Everyone goes 70 in the 55 anyway.”Senior Paul Nimon agreed with Bosse. “It’s about time,” he said. “It was foolish of them to think it would solve any pollution problems.”The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced during the summer that it would replace the limit with a dual speed limit that would impose the 55 mph rule only on vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds after receiving negative feedback on the speed limits from state officials.This would relieve the reduced speed for smaller cars and trucks, but the 55 mph limit would be reinstated in 2005 for these vehicles.However, worries arose that the dual limit was against the law, so the commission voted Monday for the new 60 and 65 mph limits.The Texas Department of Transportation will begin taking down the 55 mph signs this week, and drivers can enjoy the new speed limits as soon as the 60 and 65 mph limits signs are in place. There are 3,200 signs in all, placed in Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties. TxDOT said this week that the signs would come down within a month.According to TxDOT, the 55 mph signs cost taxpayers nearly $1 million. Stickers with the new limit on them will be placed on top of the old limit this time, in order to save money. This will cost anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000, which is much more cost-effective.Newly re-elected Texas governor Rick Perry announced the increased speed limits on Monday, a day before voters went to the polls. Mark Sanders, who represents Perry’s election opponent Tony Sanchez, said that Perry’s timing announcing the speed change was “suspicious”. Perry, however, describes the timing as “coincidental”.State officials have yet to find a way to keep Houston’s air standards up to par with the U.S. Clean Air Act.

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