JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Interstate highways will have signs showing the new 70 mph speed limits the day after Gov. Mel Carnahan signs the new speed limits bill, probably early next week.
At least that is what the Highway and Transportation Department, in charge of posting the new signs, is planning to do. The new bill gives this Department the power to change these limits if they consider them too high or too low.
"I think there are going to be some significant changes but I don't have any idea of the magnitude," said Joe Mickes, Assistant to the Chief Engineer of the Highway Department.
To determine the proper speed limit the Highway Department will prepare some engineer studies of each road. They will begin with the higher volume roads and pass to the lower volume ones.
"I know we will do the Interstates in one day and probably the next day we will have the majority of the expressways," said Mickes.
According to Mickes the standard engineering procedure to study the proper speed of a road includes data about "safety, the accident experience, the speed the people is currently driving and geometric conditions."
"I feel quite confident they are going to set appropriate speed limits," said Capt. C. A. Greeno of the Highway Patrol about the possibility of the Highway Department to change speed limits.
Greeno said that although any increase in the speed limits can lead to a higher number of accidents, the bill, he said, mostly follows the Patrol's recommendations. The new speed limits are "far better that the pre-1974," Greeno said.
As for U.S. 71 in western Missouri that prompted the Senate's filibuster, the Highway Department's Mickes said it would not be given any special treatment.
"As far as I'm concern 71 is a four-lane expressway as a lot of others," said Mickes. "We will look at 71, we will look at 63 and we will look at 54."
Highway 71 was one of the issues raised by Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler, as a reason for his filibuster that had blocked a Senate vote.
Caskey finally allowed a vote after he said he had assurances from the Highway Department that it would consider setting a 70 mph speed limit for the highway.