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Some Arkansas highways have 75 mph speed limit, but could that be changing?

Three years ago, Arkansas lawmakers authorized 75 mph speed limits only for certain highways in rural portions of the state. But, could that be changing soon?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Three years after Arkansas lawmakers authorized 75 mph speed limits on certain highways, the state highway department said they have posted the required signs in most places where they are allowed-- all while continuing to study other roads that remain at lower speed limits.

"A majority of, if not all, of the rural highways have been raised to 75 miles an hour," said Dave Parker, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

With 75 becoming such a norm, it's important for many drivers to remember where the faster pace is allowed. 

The key word is "rural." Most drivers have to travel far from city centers if they want to legally step on the gas that much harder.

"We knew 75 miles an hour was coming 5, 6, 7, 8.. 10 years ago," Parker said.

But three years ago is when the General Assembly declared in Act 784 that "the maximum speed limit for a motor vehicle operated on a controlled-access highway is seventy-five (75) miles per hour." 

Before Act 784, the fastest legal limit was 70. 

The law cleared up some language about studies and research, but it also set two qualifications. 

The first being that the road has to be "located outside an urban area," and the second being that it has to have at least four lanes with a median strip.

So now that signs have been posted, there are questions about why highways in the suburbs are still stuck at 70 or slower?

"It's because of safety reasons," Parker said. "The road can handle it, but for motorists safety, we have not increased."

Specifically, there is an area between the Lonoke and Pulaski County lines where US 67/167 goes from 75, down to 65 before down further to 60. 

It's the same kind of freeway with on-ramps and off-ramps, but Parker said ARDOT is concerned about construction in the area and traffic volume.

That's not all, there's also US-70 through Saline and Garland Counties, which was notoriously unsafe with numerous deadly crashes before it was expanded to four lanes on either side of a center lane. The speed limit on that stretch is capped at 60 mph.

Parker said it [US-70] is being studied along with the US 270-B bypass that it links with in Hot Springs. 

They need to decide the merits of raising the rate on a road with an intersection with a traffic signal as well as numerous private driveways along the route.

It prompts the question what the difference is using an on-ramp to get to 75 miles per hour versus turning left into traffic going 60 miles per hour. 

Well, those questions will all be a part of the review according to Parker.

"The roads are built to handle 75 miles an hour," he said. "Those particular roads we're talking about, it's where the drivers are ready for 75 miles an hour."

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