DOT to consider raising W.Va. interstate speed limit to 75 mph

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The speed limit could hit 75 miles per hour on interstates in West Virginia. Lawmakers gave that authority to the state's Department of Transportation to raise the maximum limit on Friday.

Most drivers WSAZ spoke to, like Hailey Adkins and Joe McNamara, like the idea.

"That would be great, honestly," said Adkins.

"I think it'd be fine," adds McNamara.

“The speed limit lowered down when we came into the state, but the traffic sure hasn’t,” said Craig Rackham.

In fact, some would like to go much further.

"Ought to be like the autobahn in Germany, fast as you want to go," said Van McClaskey with a laugh.

Adkins would even like 85 mph.

Others, like Bob Garber and truck driver Rob James, tell us, not so fast. Curves, hills and even the road itself are reasons why the limit should remain right where it is.

"Curves are too bad,” said James. “Right through here, needs to stay about 65, 60."

"For now, 65 might be good," said Garber. “Until the road gets fixed."

We met up with Sgt. B.K. Wellman with West Virginia State Police. It doesn't take long to find speeders at the Huntington rest area, even if it's on a hill and a curve.

"Everybody automatically assumes it's a given we're going to get 10 over a lot of time. That's not the case," said Sgt. Wellman.

Enforcement is based on many things, including traffic and weather conditions. The faster people go, the faster bad things can happen.

"Cell phones are the worst," said Sgt. Wellman. "If speed limit goes up, they're going to go even faster. If they already think we give them 10 at 70 mph, they're going to think we're giving them 10 at 75 mph."

With the resolution passed by lawmakers, it's now up to the state Department of Transportation secretary to determine if and where any 65 signs should be 70 or even 75.

"As long as people are safe, that's the most important thing," said McNamara.

"I don't think it will cause that much of a difference," said Jackie Shepherd, another truck driver.

We left several messages with the Department of Transportation Monday to find out where they would look at increasing the speed limit, but our questions were not immediately answered.

One week later DOT officials responded with this statement:

"While the West Virginia Department of Transportation intends to investigate the possibility of raising the speed limit to 75 miles per hour generally, there are no immediate plans to change the speed limit of any particular location at this time.

"The DOT is always evaluating its roadways to ensure drivers are able to get around in the most efficient and safest manner possible. If it is determined that we would like to review the speed limits of certain areas and consider possible increases, our next step would be to provide traffic engineering studies and recommendations on stretches of road suited for an increased speed limit to the Secretary of Transportation, who would make the final determination about any potential change."

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