Mayor Suggests Increasing Speed Limit on Chesapeake Expressway
If you live in Chesapeake like me, you’ll be aware that detours around the Chesapeake Expressway are a way of life. Traffic avoiding the toll can cause congestions and accidents.
Now, according to the Virginian-Pilot, Mayor Alan Krasnoff believes he may have found a way around the problem by raising the speed limit on the road.
The Mayor wants the city to look at the idea of raising the speed limit on the Route 168 expressway, which runs from Interstate 64 to the North Carolina line. At present, the maximum speed allowed on the 16.5-mile highway is 55 mph – the same as the two-lane stretch of Battlefield Boulevard that runs alongside it much of the way but is free to drive on.
“There has to be more of an incentive for people to take” the expressway, Krasnoff said at a City Council strategic planning, according to the Pilot.
The toll road was opened back in 2001 at a cost of $116 million. However, the it had its critics and many drivers seek to avoid it.
The Pilot reported on how the amount of detouring increased in 2011 after the city-owned expressway’s peak toll was tripled to $6 each way for cars over the summer. A consulting firm recommended the price increase to help raise money for repairs, but it’s a high price to pay for such a small section of road.
The possibility of raising the speed limit to boost the expressway’s appeal will be discussed at next Tuesday’s work session before the council meeting.
Apparently the main target is getting vehicles off Battlefield Boulevard South, which handled a staggering average of 16,300 vehicles a day in May. There’s no doubt that Battlefield Boulevard is one of the most dangerous and congested places in Hampton Roads but I am always concerned about proposals to raise a speed limit.
Many studies of the relationship between increased speed limits and accident rates have been carried out since 1987, when states were allowed to increase maximum speed limits from 55 miles per hour (mph) to 65 mph. Some of these studies were inconclusive, leading the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) to carry out its own report.
It examined these earlier studies, looked at state transportation and police departments, and collected and analyzed relevant data.
The NCHRP study found a correlation between higher speed limits and an increased likelihood of deaths and incapacitating injuries. It found that increasing a speed limit from 55 to 65 mph on a section of high speed road resulted in about a 3 percent increase in the total number of vehicle crashes and a 24 percent increase in the likelihood a driver or a passenger would be fatally injured. This increased crash rate would yield a 28 percent increase in the number of fatalities following the speed limit increase, the study concluded.
I help the victims of excess speed frequently in my job as a Chesapeake car wreck lawyer. Call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers if you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a speeding driver at 757.455.0077.