MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Senate’s transportation committee has approved a bill that would clear the way for a 70 mph speed limit on highways in Wisconsin.
The bill would allow the state Department of Transportation to decide which stretches of road should have a speed limit of 70 mph, rather than the current 65 mph. Even so, Republicans introduced an amendment this week prohibiting WisDOT from raising the limit on four-lane roads with at-grade access.
That means the limit couldn’t be changed on highways and freeways that don’t have entrance and exit ramps.
The amendment was adopted unanimously Thursday by the five members of the Senate’s transportation committee. Before voting, some members said they were worried that the amendment might be taken out before the legislation goes back to the state Assembly for a full vote.
“The amendment is good,” said state Sen. Jerry Petrowski, a Republican from Marathon and the chairman of the transportation committee, ”and hopefully there will be no attempt to change it.”
Some members said they were curious how long it would take for speed limits to be raised should the legislation receive final approval.
Petrowski said it could be a matter of months.
“Something may be done by next spring depending on when the governor signs it,” he said.
State Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, said Tuesday that the amendment was the result of a deal he had reached with Petrowski and state Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg.
Tittl said there were concerns about the safety of increasing speed limits on highways that do not have ramps.
The transportation committee’s approval Thursday sets the stage for a vote by the full Senate. If the bill is passed by that chamber, it would go back to the Assembly, which had approved an unamended version in March.
Both houses must pass an identical bill before it can go to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.
The Daily Reporter staff writer Erika Strebel also contributed to this report.