HIGHSPIRE, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – Speed limits on more than 100 miles of two interstates maintained by PennDOT will rise to 70 mph for the first time as part of a pilot program.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said Wednesday that the sections include 88 miles on Interstate 80 in northern Clearfield and Clinton counties and 21 miles of Interstate 380 in northeastern Lackawanna and Monroe counties.

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On Interstate 80, the 70 mph zone stretches from Exit 101 (Dubois) to mile marker 189 in Clinton County.

“After thorough analysis and reviewing other states’ practices, PennDOT is piloting this speed limit so we can use the data to determine where else the maximum speed could be increased,” Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said in a statement. “Safety is our top priority in this process, and I urge drivers to obey the speed limit whether they’re in their neighborhood or on an interstate.”

The change is to take effect the week of Aug. 11.

Schoch says other highways could see increased speed limits next spring or summer. About 35 other states already allow speeds of 70 mph or more.

The announcement comes a day after the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission raised that roadway’s speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on a 97-mile stretch in central and eastern Pennsylvania.

The 70 mph zone stretches from Blue Mountain (Interchange 201) to Morgantown (Interchange 298).

“As we increase the speed limit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, motorists need to increase their restraint behind the wheel accordingly,” Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said in a statement. “Remember, even though we’re increasing the speed limit, motorists still must obey the law and drive safety. After all, 70 mph is the maximum speed, not the mandatory speed.”

Compton also said other portions of the Turnpike could be raised to 70 mph in 2015.

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State senator Jay Costa says there are western Pennsylvania areas that could move to 70 mph now.

“We know for a fact there are a number of highways across the Commonwealth that are in position where safety issues are not an issue there,” Costa said. “We should be doing more.”

Reacting to Costa’s statement, PennDOT executive Dan Cessna said, “We don’t want to do anything where we would see an increase in crashes. We want to do it where it can be done safely.”

Cessna joined the KDKA Morning News to talk about why our area was left out of the increase to 70 mph.

“We are evaluating one section of interstate that we are considering, but typically when you see the higher speed limits, they are in rural areas. So, we won’t know for a while yet if we’re going to be able to raise any our (speed limits around here),” Cessna said.


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