Skubick: Support for 80 mph speed limit revving up

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – There’s talk around the Capitol about boosting the freeway speed limits to 80 miles an hour again, but there’s been a change of attitude on the issue from a key interest group.

For more than two years, lawmakers have talked about changing the freeway speeds from 70 to 80 but so far the talk has not translated into votes to do it.

Nonetheless the House Transportation Committee took testimony on the measure and suffice it to say not everybody is on board.

“We think we’re going to see more deaths on the highway,” said insurance industry lobbyist Pete Kuhnmuench. “The data suggests that.”

But the bills sponsor believes the modern day highways are built to handle higher speeds.

And the sponsor believes the resources of the State Police should be re-directed into investigating crimes and nabbing the really bad drivers out there, including drunks.

Another issue is the speed of trucks. This bill would boost speeds to 70mph. “If we kick the speed up and the trucks stay the same, we’re going to have more bottlenecks which I believe creates a higher risk,” said Rep. Ken Yonker.

But all this committee debate may be moot because the sponsor reports the State Police have had a change of attitude.

Two years ago it was supportive. Now, maybe not. And if that is the case, Rep. Brad Jacobsen says State Police opposition is not a good sign. “Certainly it’s not a good sign. Very rarely does the legislature go against the whims and wishes of the State Police, but there’s a lot of ground swell of support for it.”

Enough ground swell to change the speed limit? We’ll see.

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