Jim Obwerweis Makes a Mark

Jim Oberweis earned a front page story in the Chicago Tribune for his 70 MPH speed limit bill.

Jim Oberweis earned a front page story in the Chicago Tribune for his 70 MPH speed limit bill.

Back when Governor Dan Walker was in office, the gas crisis was in full swing.

One day while the General Assembly was in session, he ordered the speed limit in Illinois to be dropped to 55 miles per hour.

On the way home, I was dutifully driving 55 MPH and a State Police car whizzed past me.

Though some sense of perverse duty I caught up to him flashed my lights and he pulled over.

“Did you know Governor Walker has lowered the speed limit to 55?” I asked.

He didn’t, so I suggested he check it out and drove on.

Now State Senator Jim Oberweis has passed a bill through the State Senate that would set the speed limit on Interstates to 70 MPH.

And it’s on the House floor.

The Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board members editorialized against it after an article about Oberweis’ accomplishment made the front page.

I have to wonder if any those Board members drive outside of the Chicago metropolitan area.

The Chicago Tribune doesn't like Jim Oberweis'  higher speed limit idea.

The Chicago Tribune doesn’t like Jim Oberweis’
higher speed limit idea.

But, it’s not just Chicago influencials who don’t want people driving at a legal 70 miles per hour on Illinois’ boring interstates.

Back when Governor Jim Edgar was in office, the speed limit on Tollways outside of the six-county area was 70 MPH.

That didn’t satisfy Edgar, who did very little traveling on interstates. (He flew in state planes.)

Without asking the General Assembly, he lowed that speed limit to 65 MPH.

After all, he did appoint the members of the Toll Highway Authority and, when a Governor asks for something, he usually gets it.

At least the Tribune admits, “To an extent, Illinois would be playing catch-up. More than 30 states already allow motorists to travel 70 or 75 mph. Utah allows 80 mph.” It also notes that Texas is at 85 MPH.

One can understand why the Tribune would like to make is harder to get out of Illinois. After all, it sells few papers along Interstates leading to places better to live.

Oberweis had been luck promoting a 70 mile per hour speed limit than I did when I advanced it as part of my campaign for Governor on the Libertarian Party slate in 2002.

Maybe it’s been enough years that common sense will prevail.


Jim Obwerweis Makes a Mark — 5 Comments

  1. Not quite right Cal. Dan Walker didn’t do it alone nor did he have authority to. Lay it on Congress and their folly desiring to save gasoline. Oil embargo/Oil crisis/gas lines. Remember? Big brother from the government is here to save us.

    The Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act was a bill the U.S. Congress enacted creating the National Maximum Speed Law of 55 MPH. States had to agree to the limit if they wanted to get federal highway funds. President Nixon signed it on January 2, 1974. Loss of highway funds was a huge hammer. Don;t comply and NO MONEY. Illinois highway speed went from 65 to 55. The tollway/Illinois interstates dropped from 70MPH to 55MPH.

    Congress repealed the National Maximum Speed Law in 1995. Speed limits reverted back to the individual states. Unfortunately IDOT ( remember only one i different from idiot) decided to leave the limit at 55 mph only rasied it to 65 on the tollway/interstates. There was a couple weeks that NO TICKETS could be written because the State law automatically increased speed back to 65mph unless otherwise posted. There was then a hustle to errect 55MPH speed signs.

    Strangely enough the roads are designed for much higher speeds and we made it for years driving at 65MPH. Highway speed limits are typically set at (or below) the 85th percentile. Measured speed taken by highway enginners set the speed where no more than 15% of traffic is exceeding that speed. ( the 85th percentile) Typically speeds are set 8 to 12 mph below the 85th percentile. ( that usually becomes the grace before enforcement) Hence 65 mph, the speed at which most were driving on state and most county roads became 55MPH.

    Traffic engineers doing the speed studies determined that in reality most people on the tollway were SELF GOVERNING themselves at 78 MPH so the idiots or I should I say IDOT set the speed down at 65 MPH. Now add back the grace before enforcement is USUALLY initiated and you’re back at 75mph . OR the 85th percentile.

  2. Maybe so.

    I don’t have any documents one way or the other.

    I just know the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act allowed the reductions.

    What I never understood is why ILLINOIS didn’t return to the previous 70MPH on limited access highways.

    I also remember that on my old Chevy Impala driing to school. (UI Champaign/Urbana)

    One wheel must have been out of balance and the ‘shimmy’ smoothed out just over 65mph.

    The speed limit was 65, so no fear.

    The long stretches of Rte 47 were all 65MPH.

    Now driving that area is like watching paint dry.

    I hope they raise the limit back up.

  3. April 19th from mile marker 1-33 on I-57, early P.M.,I counted a total of 7 cars pulled over.

    This So. Illinois greeting for inbound travelers on 57, 24 and 55 has been going on for years now.

    Very difficult to adjust from normal limits in surrounding states to do the 6 1/2 hour crawl up to Chicago.

    These State Police patrolling down there take full advantage of this revenue producing scam.

    Or maybe they just want you to slow down, so as not to miss visiting one of the Immigrant Welcoming Centers, they have littered along the So.llinois interstates.

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