Kane road officials grappling with state law bumping speed limits

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 8:02 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 11:27 p.m. CDT

GENEVA – Kane County transportation officials have not yet decided how they will respond to a new law that increases the speed limit on many highways throughout Illinois.

But the officials said the matter will be a topic of conversation in coming weeks, as those responsible for overseeing the county's roadways work through the implications of the change in the law.

Monday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law legislation introduced by State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, that would increase the speed limit on most of the state's interstate highway segments from 65 mph to 70 mph.

The law also would set speed limits at 65 mph on some other state highways.

The increase of the speed limit has come under criticism from police organizations and others concerned about highway safety. But the legislation passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the General Assembly.

The new speed limits take effect Jan. 1.

The law clearly applies to interstate highway segments in rural areas of the state, outside of the Chicago and St. Louis metropolitan areas. But the law is less clear regarding its impact on certain highway segments within counties in those metropolitan areas.

The law specifically allows county boards in Kane and other metropolitan counties in the state to pass ordinances setting speed limits lower on roadways through their counties.

Jae Miller, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said her agency is developing maps to mark off the roadways that it believes could be subject to the new limits and could be subject to such county ordinances.

Locally, roadways covered by the law could include stretches of Interstate 88, Interstate 90, U.S. Route 20 and U.S. Route 30 through Kane County, said Kane County Deputy Director of Transportation Tom Rickert.

"It's going to take some time to understand what the intent was, and how it applies to us," Rickert said.

Kane County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, chairman of the Kane County Board's Transportation Committee, said he supports the higher speed limits generally. But he questioned the efficacy of the increased speeds in more congested areas.

"I'm a big believer in not turning people into criminals by not putting unrealistic rules out there," Frasz said. "But I can't think of too many places in the county where 70 mph would really be appropriate.

"But this is something that is in the future, and we're going to have get better informed on."