The city of Lubbock will consider increasing the speed limit on South Loop 289 to 65 miles per hour, the City Council will hear a recommendation from the Department of Public Works about increasing the speed limit on Thursday.
This proposed change comes after the Texas Department of Transportation recommended a speed increase there as well. The speed limit on the South Loop between I-27 and West 34th Street is 60 miles per hour, but the speed limit throughout the rest of the Loop is 65 miles per hour.
TxDOT performed a study in the spring of 2016 and determined that 85 percent of drivers travel at or above 67 miles per hour while on that portion of the loop. Under the formula TxDOT uses to determine speed limits, 65 miles per hour would be a more fitting speed limit for the traffic patterns in that area.
“The speed limit may be 60 right now but if the flow of traffic is already going 67 miles an hour, it can be unsafe to go slower than the flow of traffic,” explained Wood Franklin, Director of Public Works for the City of Lubbock.
Franklin explained that the city’s engineering department has been talking with TxDOT about the possibility of these changes for months.
“Logistically I think people will be more familiar with the speed limit and more aware of what’s going on when the entire Loop has the same speed limit all the way around,” he said.
Lubbock Municipal Court told EverythingLubbock.com that in 2015 there were 1,782 traffic violations on the South Loop. Already in 2016, there have been 716 recorded traffic violations (as of August 22) on the South Loop, out of those 78 percent are speeding violations.
“If anything, making the entire loop 65 mph will probably help with uniformed enforcement and standards, but we will see if/when it is approved,” said Asst. Chief Jon Caspell of Lubbock Police after talking about the proposed speed limit change to officers who work on traffic patrol. He explained that LPD will continue to enforce whatever speed limit is posted at the South Loop.
Over the years, speed limits and Lubbock have changed with developing technologies.
“Originally the loop was 55 miles per hour and with the advent of better and faster cars and more safe cars we look at the speed studies and annually and in times of need, that’s how this [change] came about,” Franklin said.
He added that the speed increase is designed to make traffic patterns safer, and he hopes drivers keep an eye out for other ways they can help keep the roads safe.
“Just because the speed’s increasing, we still appreciate everyone being safe on the road and obviously no texting and driving, put down all your distractions and pay attention to what you’re doing on the road,” Franklin said.
Dianah Ascencio with TxDOT explained that even if the city council doesn’t approve the changes, TXDOT can still get the speed increase approved through submitting the proposal to the Texas Transportation Commission. She added that if the changes are approved it will likely take months before they go into effect; the new speed limit won’t be enforceable until TxDOT is able to install new speed limit signs.