Governor struggling with a decision on the speed-limit measure Schaefer, who has opposed bill in past, is to announce decision Friday.

May 22, 1991|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Evening Sun Staff

Due to an editing error, a story yesterday incorrectly stated the intent of a bill affecting speed limits. The bill would allow state officials to raise the speed limit from 55 mph to 65 mph on rural interstate highways in Maryland but would not require them to do so. The Evening Sun regrets the error.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer is having a tough time deciding whether to sign into law a bill that would allow Marylanders to drive 65 mph on certain rural interstate highways.

Schaefer, who has opposed the higher speed limit in the past, did not divulge which way he was leaning on the bill after a veto hearing yesterday.


"Obviously I'm having great difficulty with this bill," Schaefer said.

David S. Iannucci, Schaefer's chief legislative officer, said the governor plans to announce his decision Friday.

Representatives of insurance and traffic safety organizations urged Schaefer to veto the bill. Other states that raised their speed limits from 55 mph to 65 mph reported an increase in highway deaths and injuries afterward, the bill's opponents said.

But others, including legislators and a leader of a motorists' rights group, said most drivers ignore the current 55 mph speed limit because it is too low. The bill's sponsor, Del. Dana L. Dembrow, D-Montgomery, said the 65 mph limit might improve safety by leading to a more uniform rate of speed.

Highways that could be designated for the higher speed include Interstate 70 from the Howard County line to Washington County, I-270 from Frederick to Gaithersburg, I-95 from Big Gunpowder Falls to Delaware, and I-83 in northern Baltimore County. Once upgraded to interstate standards, U.S. 48 in Western Maryland and portions of U.S. 50 west of Annapolis could be posted at 65 mph. Part of I-97 in Anne Arundel County also is a candidate for the higher speed.

State highway officials are considering raising the speed limit in rural Western Maryland as a test project if Schaefer signs the bill.

In 1987, Congress allowed states to raise the speed limit from 55 mph to 65 mph on interstate highways in rural areas. About 40 states have done so.

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