BOISE - Sen. Bob Nonini said he wants more information on a bill introduced Tuesday which would let the Idaho Transportation Board raise freeway speed limits to 80 miles per hour while accelerating top-out levels to 70 mph on state highways.
Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, said a full committee hearing could yield answers as to where the Idaho Transportation Department wants to go with the bill, which was given an initial go-ahead from the Senate Transportation Committee.
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, explained that in the event the measure becomes law, the state transportation board would consider recommendations from the Idaho Transportation Department on what stretches of road the agency's studies indicate that speed limits in Idaho could be safely increased.
"The bill is not intended to immediately cause a change in speed limits throughout the state," said Davis, the nascent bill's sponsor.
ITD officials are expected to testify at a full hearing, Nonini noted.
"We can ask them 'Are there specific interstates or highways, state highways, in Idaho that you have plans to look at, first of all, to where the speed limit would be increased?'" Nonini said.
Nonini mentioned one specific stretch of North Idaho roadway in the context of looking at possible speed limit increases.
"I think of like east of Coeur d'Alene, on highway 90, which is an interstate," Nonini said. "And, once you get over Fourth of July, the speed limit is 75 there. There's not a lot in Idaho, but I think it's worthy, but I don't know why it isn't 80 in some of those cases."
Davis observed that the potential increases from current 75 mph interstate maximums and 65 mph limits on state roads are nothing to get revved up about right away.
"In the event that the bill were to pass, and be signed into law, I would not be able to immediately drive 80 miles an hour where I have previously driven 75 miles per hour. As if that would have that much of an impact on some people I know," Davis said amid chuckling during the Senate Transportation Committee meeting. "Instead, I would wait until the signs ... have changed."