The Minnesota Department of Transportation will raise the posted speed limit from 55 mph to 60 mph on the entire length of Highway 75, the majority of Highway 59 and 14 miles of Highway 7 in western Minnesota. Crews will begin installation of the new 60 mph signs Oct. 21; the speed limit will be effective once the signs are posted. The Minnesota State Patrol will enforce the new speed limit.
MnDOT traffic engineers in the Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Willmar and Mankato districts studied the best “candidate” highways and found that the approximately 730 combined miles of Highway 59, Highway 75 and Highway 7 meet the necessary criteria.
“We did a careful and thorough study, looking at crash history, the way the roads are designed and what speed the traffic is actually traveling on the road,” said Sue Groth, MnDOT’s state traffic engineer. “Sixty miles per hour was determined to be the safe and reasonable speed limits for these roadways.”
Highway 59 enters Minnesota south of Worthington and overlaps Interstate 94 near Fergus Falls. The route passes through Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls before ending at the Canadian border north of Lake Bronson State Park and Lancaster. Two segments of Highway 59 will remain posted at 55 mph between Clarkfield and Marshall and south of I-90 because of different roadway characteristics, including narrower shoulders and reduced sight lines.
Current speed zones through towns on both roadways will remain unchanged.
In addition, MnDOT will raise the speed limit on the 14-mile segment of Highway 7 that runs between Highway 75 (near Odessa) and Highway 59 (near Appleton).
In 2005, MnDOT raised speed limits from 55 mph to 60 mph on 930 miles of state highways. A study of these roads conducted last year found no negative safety impact.
“MnDOT is not in favor of increasing speed limits across the entire state,” Groth said. “When carefully selecting roadways with the proper characteristics, an increase in the speed limit can occur without negatively affecting overall safety.”
The state departments of Transportation, Health and Public Safety lead Minnesota’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program. Each year, illegal or unsafe speed is a leading contributing factor in Minnesota’s fatal crashes. Motorists are reminded that the posted speed limit is the maximum safe speed to travel under ideal conditions. All motorists are required to follow the basic speed limit law which states no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions.
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