Pa. senator wants to increase speed limit to 70 - abc27 WHTM

Pa. senator wants to increase speed limit to 70

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Senator Joe Scarnati - (R) Jefferson - drives thousands of miles a month coming from a rural county to the Capitol. He's got plenty of time to think about, and analyze, Pennsylvania's roads.

He's confident there are plenty of stretches of highway and turnpike that can handle a 70 mile per hour speed limit, so he sent out a co-sponsorship memo last Friday to fellow senators looking for a 5 mph hike.

Scarnati says his prime motivation is economics. He wants the Commonwealth to keep on truckin' and those trucks to keep on movin'.

"It's about getting goods and services to markets as quickly as possible," Scarnati said. "If you can do it safely, we oughta to do it."

Scarnati's proposal would NOT require the speed limit to be raised to 70, it would ALLOW PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike to hike them in stretches where they could do so safely.

Monday motorists on I-81 and I-83 around Harrisburg say that's not likely on the Capital Beltway.

"I think it's a little too congested in this area," said Dave Stilphen, a former Harrisburg resident who now lives in upstate New York. "Too many people on the road at once means there would be more tailgating of trucks and at those speeds I'd be very concerned about that."

abc27 drove 65 mph on I-81 South at noontime in the right lane and was perpetually passed by cars and trucks traveling much faster. If 65 is the law, and it is, then the law was largely being ignored. What would increasing the speed limit to 70 mean?

"I just put 2,000 miles on my car in the last four days," said Don Wehrmann, at a Harrisburg rest stop en route to Rhode Island. "I go with the flow, and there's still cars blowing by me at 85 or 90. But I like the idea of increasing the speed limit."

Scarnati says cars are more fuel efficient now so consumption is not as big a deal as it once was. He also says cars are safer. 

Don agrees. "In my wife's car, you're doing 80 and it feels like you're doing 55."

But others just aren't comfortable putting Pennsylvania in the fast lane.

"I think we're fine just the way we are," said Jean Attanasi of the Poconos. "I think we use more gas going faster, and it's a little less safe, I think."

Scarnati concedes there are more pressing issues for lawmakers at the Capitol.

His says his bill won't likely be fast-tracked.

But he is in Senate leadership, and he is jump-starting the conversation.

"Look, there'll be critics and obviously I'm not afraid of hearing from the critics. Maybe it will make the bill better."

In his memo, Scarnati said 34 states have speed limits of at least 70 mph.

In Pennsylvania, the speed limit was increased from 55 to 65 in 1995 under Governor Tom Ridge.

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