Speed limits rise to 70 mph on more Triangle highways

From staff reportsSeptember 23, 2013 

— Drivers will be able to legally go a little faster on some Triangle highways later this month.

The N.C. Department of Transportation announced Monday that it will increase the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on three major roads by the end of September. They are:

Interstate 540 between Glenwood Avenue and I-40.

All of N.C. 540, including the Triangle Expressway.

N.C. 147 between N.C. 540 and I-40.

A contractor is expected to start installing the new speed limit signs this week, weather permitting, with the new law taking effect as the signs are installed.

The changes mean the speed limit on I-540, known as the Outer Loop, will be now 70 mph along its entire length across Wake County. In February, the DOT bumped up the speed limit for a 21-mile stretch from U.S. 64-264 near Knightdale west to Glenwood Avenue.

DOT officials say they reviewed crash data and road characteristics such as lane and shoulder widths along the stretches of road and concluded they will remain safe at the higher speed.

“These roads are among our safest highways, and we expect that they will continue to be,” State Traffic Engineer Kevin Lacy said.

The Regional Transportation Alliance, a nonprofit business group that lobbies for road and transit improvements, had asked DOT to allow the higher speeds on 540 and other Triangle freeways. Last year, DOT approved faster speeds on Wade Avenue Extension in West Raleigh (60 mph) and on U.S. 1 from Apex through Sanford (70 mph).

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