State Sen. Jim Oberweis, who sponsored law lifting maximum, vows to push for upward adjustment
by Ted Gregory | Chicago Tribune
Nearly 90 percent of interstate highway miles in Illinois will have 70-mph speed limits starting Wednesday, state transportation officials announced Friday, but the sponsor of the law raising the limits is upset almost all existing posted speeds in the Chicago area will remain unchanged and he vowed to push for them to be higher.
Drivers on almost 1,900 of the state’s nearly 2,170 miles of interstate will be able to travel at 70 mph instead of the existing speed limits, generally 65 along rural highways, after crews post the new speed limit signs — weather permitting — Jan. 2-17, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
But only about 30 percent of the Illinois Tollway’s 286-mile network will get the higher speed limit, according to a map released by IDOT. And in the Chicago area, the 70-mph limit will be posted only on five fairly short stretches of interstate. Those are sections of I-80 and I-55 in Will County, a stretch of I-57 in far southern Cook County and all of Will County, a portion of the I-88 toll road in far western Kane County and part of the I-94 tollway in northern Lake County.
“It’s unacceptable,” said State. Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, who sponsored the bill that Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law in August. Oberweis said he was upset that IDOT, which had the authority to draw up the speed limit map, left unchanged the 55-mph speed limit across virtually all of the Chicago region. “They’re putting law-abiding citizens into danger.”
“It’s quite clear” that 85 percent of vehicles are traveling at 70 mph or faster on almost all expressways, Oberweis said, and that the variation between the 55-mph legal limit and 70-mph higher speed is a significant factor in crashes. Oberweis, who is running for U.S. Senate, owns a family dairy company that runs trucks on the highways.