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With a nod to high-speed needs, NCDOT ups the limit to 60mph on Wade Ave Extn

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After a study confirmed that most drivers are going 65mph -- safely -- on the busy Wade Avenue Extension in West Raleigh, NCDOT has raised the speed limit from 55mph to 60mph.

Lead-foot drivers and other folks, is this a good idea? Let me hear from you, and don't forget your name and workday phone number. [2/16/12 update: see today's story with reader comments.]

DOT made the change after considering a recommendation from the Regional Transportation Alliance, a transportation-advocacy business group. The change covers about two miles, from I-40 to a spot about 500 feet west of the I-440 Beltline.  Then it drops to 45mph, and then after Ridge Road to 35mph. 

DOT engineers also will study other freeway routes around the Triangle for a possible speed-limit increase from 65mph now to 70mph.

RTA's wish list also includes

- the entire 540 Outer Loop,
- US 1 from Cary to Sanford,
- the N.C. 147 Durham Freeway (from the future East End Connector in East Durham to I-40 and continuing on the new tolled portion of Triangle Expressway through RTP to NC 540), and
- I-40 between Aviation Parkway and Lake Wheeler Road.


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I consistently drove 55 mph on Wade Ave. for years, and I never once caused an accident, so your hyperbole, "no one ever goes 55 on that stretch, and if you do you'll probably cause an accident." is quite wrong.  Additionally, the National Center for Statistics and Analysis NCSA shows, about 40% of fatal accidents in North Carolina included speeding vehicles.

It's well known that the speed limits in this state and country are often ignored, and in my experience, the average speed will be between 5 and 15 over the posted speed limit for the left lane and 0-10 over for the other lanes. But, physics and tells us that we'll get more accidents and fatalities as the speed increases. Additionally, the average fuel economy drops dramatically for each 5 mph increase in speed, so here's to using more foreign oil!

Additionally, it's been shown that people will commute about 24 min. on average (of all people), so increasing the speed limit will just add to the number of miles driven per person on the interstate, clogging the interstate up more as people rush faster to the bottle necks and inevitable accidents along our interstates. This increased speed will increase gas usage, accidents, fatalities, traffic, and eventually require more highway lanes and higher taxes.

In conclusion, raising the speed limit, while it may make the individual happy, is a wrong-headed approach to our highways.

Read more here: one ever goes 55 on that stretch, and if you do you'll probably cause an accident.
Read more here:

my 2 cents

wade ave. extension seems fine for 60 or 65, it seems to be built for it.  no one ever goes 55 on that stretch, and if you do you'll probably cause an accident.

540 outer loop theoretically ok for 70 unless/until it gets more congested.  but 70 means people go 80 and 80 is tough to deal with if there is any congestion.

US1 south of cary - 70 would be find south of the new I-540 exit that will open this summer.  north of that, some of the interchanges are not top interstate class, like Ten-Ten Rd, that might be tough.

I-40 from Exit 285 to 297 - No, leave at 65.   we can't be going up to 70 at exit 285 then down to 65 willy nilly at 297.

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About the blogger

Bruce Siceloff reports on traffic and transportation. A News & Observer reporter, editor and blogger since 1976, he took over the Road Worrier column in 2003. Lately he drives I-40 with the cruise control set at 68 mph. You can e-mail Bruce, call him at 919-829-4527, check out his Crosstown Traffic blog or follow him (@Road_Worrier) on Twitter.