Not so fast: Officials looking at raising speed limits to 80 MPH on some turnpikes

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new law took effect last week that could have motorists topping out at 80 miles an hour on some Oklahoma highways.

House Bill 1071 took effect on Friday, which could set the speed limit to 80 miles per hour on some turnpikes and 75 miles per hour on some interstates.

However, officials say not so fast; any changes still need to be evaluated for safety.

“It does not mandate those speed limit increases,” said Tim Gatz.

On Monday, the head of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said that the agency is in the middle of a large study of state roadways to see if some roads can handle a speed limit increase.

“It was time for us to take a hard look at it. It was time for us to put the effort into doing the study and what the study will yield is what the capabilities of that the system will hold,” said Gatz.

The study will look at traffic levels and road conditions. Once the study is complete, ODOT will make a recommendation to the Oklahoma State Transportation Commission on which roads could handle a speed limit hike.

“Our vehicles are getting safer, so we need to be paying attention to what traffic is doing out there,” said Gatz.

Officials say driver safety is still their top concern.

They stress that drivers in the metro should not expect speed changes locally. Lawmakers say highways like the HE Bailey, Muskogee, Cimmaron, and Indian Nations turnpikes will most likely be affected.

“The rural interstates that don’t have some of the traffic challenges that some of the urban areas do,” said Gatz.

Officials say a new speed limit won’t be decided until late winter or early spring. Months after that, new signs could be posted.

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