Governor Walker signs 70 mph speed limit bill

Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that allows state transportation officials to raise the speed limit to 70 mph on some Wisconsin roads

Walker signed the measure Wednesday. It passed the Senate and Assembly on voice votes earlier this year.

Under the law, the Department of Transportation can raise the speed limit to 70 mph only on four-lane roads that have entrance and exit ramps. They can’t raise the limit on roads with at-grade access.

DOT officials say they plan to raise the limit on freeway portions of the interstate system as well as portions of U.S. Highway 51, U.S. Highway 53 and U.S. Highway 41. The 70 mph speed limit will not take effect until a specific highway segment is posted at the higher speed. The measure’s chief sponsor, Rep. Paul Tittl, has said the agency expects to have new signage posted this summer.

Here’s a brief history of speed limits in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT):

Prior to 1947, it was unlawful to operate a vehicle “carelessly and heedlessly” with “wanton disregard” of the safety of others.
In 1949, state law specified a 65 mph speed limit during daytime hours, 55 mph at night, and 45 mph for trucks.
In 1962, as more of the Interstate system was completed, speed limits on Interstate highways were set at 70 mph during daylight hours, 60 mph at night and 55 mph for trucks.
In 1973, as an energy conservation measure, the U.S. Congress adopted a national maximum speed limit of 55 mph.
In 1987, Congress allowed states to adopt a 65 mph speed limit on rural Interstates.
In 1996, state law extended the 65 mph speed limit to certain freeways and expressways.

Rural Interstate segments in Wisconsin where speed limits will be raised to 70 mph:

Governor Walker signs 70 mph speed limit bill