ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The debate over the speed rate is heating up at the Capitol. Republican Senator Torrey Westrom's plan to raise 55 mile per hour highways to 60 mph has made it out of committee. "We would raise that up 5 miles, except in areas where there are hazards," he told KARE 11.
Senator Westrom, of Elbow Lake, represents 8 counties in the wide-open, western side of the state. He says every time he goes to a town hall meeting, he hears about this issue. His constituents have been asking for this for a long time. "We've tried different times over the last several years," he said.
But 2013 is different. Westrom says in the past, the debate has centered around making a 10 mile per hour change, not a 5 mph change. "It's always about balance here in the legislature and hopefully this is a balance that would make some sense."
Some County Sheriffs and lawmakers wonder if the roads can handle an increase in speeds. "Some are willing to push the envelope and I think others say we err on the side of caution and saving lives," DFL Representative Alice Hausman of St. Paul explained. Rep. Hausman has argued against raising the limits for years.
"What we know to be true is whatever the speed limit we set, you know the speed is going to be 5 miles per hour more than that and that's why some of us get concerned about raising those speed limits," she concluded.
Westrom says his plan, if approved, would be phased in over a dozen years. He says every time a 55 mile per hour sign would need replacing it would be replaced with a 60 sign, so the state wouldn't need to find new revenue to replace all the signage.
"And it doesn't mean you have to go 60. If you really want to go 55, you can stay driving 55," the Senator explained.
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