More local speed limit increases


The Minnesota Department of Transportation is increasing speeds on 5,240 miles of state highways based on the recommendations of a five-year study released this week. The speeds will increase from 55 to 60 miles per hour.

Of the 7,000 miles studied, speed limits ultimately will be increased on 77 percent of rural, two-lane state highways, according to the final report. New speed limits go into effect once new speed limit signs are posted. Most of the signs posting the new speed limits are in place, with the rest expected to be up by spring 2019.

The Minnesota Legislature in 2014 mandated that MnDOT study on all Minnesota two-lane roadways with a speed of 55 miles per hour.

It is the most comprehensive study the agency has made in terms of miles studied and level of detail, according to Nathan Drews, engineering specialist in the Office of Traffic Engineering.

The $1.2 million study included collecting travel speed samples on each section of roadway and evaluating roadway geometrics and hazards to determine if a speed limit could be changed without affecting motorist safety.

The recommendation for a speed increase along each of these roadways considered the speed that 85 percent of motorists drive at or below along with an evaluation of other factors, such as access points, shoulder width, vertical grades and crash history.

MnDOT has conducted before and after studies on many roadways that recently increased to 60 mph. There was no change in the overall 85th percentile speed from before the speed limit change to after. The mean speed, which is the average speed of all drivers, increased by one mile per hour and the standard deviation, which is the measure of how spread out the drivers’ speeds were, reduced slightly.

“This means that after speed limits increased, travel speeds at the locations sampled were slightly more consistent between each vehicle,” said Drews. “In other words, more drivers traveled at a similar speed after speed limits increased. This is a desirable outcome, but this change is very slight and may not affect the frequency or severity of crashes.”

Area roads where speed limits will increase to 60 mph:

Hwy. 3 from just north of Faribault to Northfield

Hwy. 19 from Hwy. 13 to Lonsdale

Hwy. 19 from Lonsdale to west of Northfield

Hwy. 19 from east side of Henderson to west side of New Prague

Hwy. 19 from Hwy. 13 to Hwy. 19 terminus

Hwy. 19 from east of Northfield to Goodhue County

Hwy. 19 from the Rice County line to Hwy. 56

Hwy. 19 from Hwy. 56 to Cannon Falls
Hwy. 19 from Cannon Falls to Red Wing

Hwy. 21 from Faribault to Shieldsville

Hwy. 21 from Shieldsville to Hwy. 99


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