Good news for Texas leadfoots:
The speed limit will soon rise from 70 to 75 mph on nearly 1,500 miles of highway. The new limit was approved Thursday by the Texas Transportation Commission after studies on the roads determined that the change would be safe.
For Fort Worth-area motorists, the changes affect only out-of-town trips. For example, on a trip to Austin, drivers can save a few minutes by driving 75 mph on Interstate 35 south of Hillsboro. Same goes for those traveling to Abilene. They can go 75 mph on I-20 west of Weatherford.
But before you put the pedal to the metal, wait until you actually see the new speed limit signs, which will be posted in the coming days or weeks.
"The new speed limit is not official until the signs go up," warned Carol Rawson, Texas Department of Transportation traffic operations director.
Where will the new speed limits be?
I-10: 289 miles, El Paso, Gillespie, Kerr, Kendall, Bexar, Guadalupe, Caldwell, Gonzales, Fayette, Colorado, Austin, Jefferson and Orange counties.
I-20: 423 miles, Crane, Ector, Midland, Martin, Howard, Mitchell, Nolan, Taylor, Callahan, Eastland, Erath, Palo Pinto, Van Zandt, Smith, Gregg and Harrison counties.
I-27: 109 miles, Lubbock, Hale, Swisher and Randall counties.
I-30: 139 miles, Hunt, Hopkins, Franklin, Titus, Morris and Bowie counties.
I-35: 106 miles, Webb, Medina, Atascosa, Bexar, Hill and Cooke counties.
I-37: 130 miles, Nueces, San Patricio, Live Oak, Atascosa and Bexar counties.
I-40: 166 miles, Deaf Smith, Oldham, Potter, Carson, Gray, Donley and Wheeler counties.
I-44: 11 miles, Wichita County.
I-45: 143 miles, Walker, Madison, Leon, Freestone and Navarro counties.
Four other highways in Central Texas got the new speed limit late last year, all in the Austin area -- I-35 from Georgetown to Salado, and Texas 130, Texas 45 and U.S. 281 -- and a number of roads have had it for several years. Once the signs are up, Texas will have 3,063 miles of highway with a 75-mph limit.
And, of course, Texas is famous (safety advocates might say infamous) for its 80-mph limit on 521 miles of I-10 and I-20 in far West Texas.
That's a grand total of 3,584 miles where drivers can go 75 mph or faster.
While the higher threshold may be fun for speed freaks, state officials caution that being allowed to go fast doesn't necessarily mean you should.
But for those who feel comfortable driving 75 mph, tests conducted by state engineers have concluded that the roads are designed for that speed and that under current conditions the overwhelming majority of traffic is already going that fast -- illegally, for now.
"People should know we didn't make these decisions in a vacuum," said Texas Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows of Fort Worth.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796