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The View: Tolls and Speed

Western Massachusetts people may be getting bit on one hand with a toll increase and on the other hand a proposed increase of 5 Miles per hour (MPH) on The Massachusetts Turnpike.

The Great & General Court has mandated the re-installation of tolls from West Stockbridge exit one to Springfield exit six beginning Oct. 15 People in Greater Springfield said they were opposed to the plan wondering where the money would go. Former Gov. William F.Weld eliminated the tolls on exists one to six when he and others were looking for financing the Big Dig.

Now a state legislator wants in increase the speed on the turnpike, I-90 and I-91 from 65 MPH to 70 MPH.

Years ago the turnpike allowed 70 MPH and then when the cost of gasoline rose, the Commonwealth reduced the speed to 55 MPH and later upped it by 5 MPH from 55 MPH to 60 MPH and then to 65 MPH.

All the while, the turnpike employed state police troopers as revenue agents to stop speeders. They claimed it was a safety issue at each point of allowed speed.

It was not. It was a way to raise revenue for the Commonwealth.

Now State Rep. Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk) wants to raise the speed limit on certain stretches of interstate highways in Massachusetts from 65 MPH to 70 MPH.

Meanwhile Sate Sen. Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) and  State Rep. William (Smitty) Pignatelli-D of Lenox said in a one word statement: “Opposed.” Neither one elaborated on their respective  positions.

“Our roads are designed for 70. Our cars are designed for faster than 65,” Winslow told the Committee on Transportation, according to State House News Service.

If approved, the bill (H 3175) would increase the speed limit on parts of the Massachusetts Turnpike, Interstate 91, and Interstate 95.

Newton resident John Carr, who told the News Service highway speeds have been “an interest of mine for about 15 years,” favors an increase in the speed limit, and said highways where the 55 mile per hour speed limit is disregarded by all but a small percentage of drivers are dangerous.

He named Rte. 3 in Burlington as an example.

Carr said other areas of the country with higher speed limits, which includes much of the southern, mid-western and western states, have safer roads where people obey the higher speed limits.

“If you set your cruise control to 80 out there, you’re the fastest car on the road,” Carr told the committee.

“By having a law that’s on the books that’s not being enforced, we actually incur sort of a lawless approach to driving in Massachusetts, which makes it all the more fun,” said Winslow, a Norfolk Republican. “But my hope is that we can at least join the majority of states by having the maximum speed be 70 rather than 65.”

Winslow’s bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Angelo Scaccia of Hyde Park, Randy Hunt of Sandwich and Cleon Turner of Dennis, a former police officer in Maine and on Cape Cod.



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Posted by on September 12, 2013. Filed under Opinion,View from the Tower. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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