Weather delays switch to 70 mph signs in Illinois

2014-01-11T00:00:00Z Weather delays switch to 70 mph signs in IllinoisKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
January 11, 2014 12:00 am  • 

SPRINGFIELD | Motorists hoping to travel faster on most Illinois interstates may have to wait a little longer because of the recent winter storm.

The Illinois Department of Transportation had hoped to install an estimated 900 new 70 miles per hour speed limit signs by Jan. 17.

But the heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures that descended on the Land of Lincoln kept the sign-switching crews busy with other tasks.

“Statewide there has been a delay in getting those signs up,” IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said Friday.

Beginning Jan. 1, a new state law moved the maximum speed limit on rural interstate highways to 70 mph, up from 65 mph.

But officials said motorists should not begin driving at the higher speed until the new signs are posted

IDOT had 1,755 trucks assigned to snow duty across the state, and nearly 3,700 full-time and part-time employees available to clear roads. Crews spread more than of 70,000 tons of salt on Illinois roads.

“The recent winter storm was top priority for our operations crews, but now that the weather has improved starting next week we hope to get more 70 mph signs erected throughout the state,” Ervin said.

Employees were able to install some of the new signs. For example, Ervin said crews were working this week on Interstate 55 in Logan County.

Once all of the signs are up, motorists will be able to drive 70 mph on nearly 90 percent of Illinois' interstate highways.

In all, it will cost an estimated $200,000 to change all of the signs.

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