Bill would raise highway speed limits in North Dakota
GRAND FORKS — A Grand Forks legislator is bringing back a bill from 2017 to raise speed limits by 5 miles per hour on certain highways in the state.
Rep. Jake Blum, R-Grand Forks, is the primary sponsor of a bill to change speed limits on multi-lane highways from 70 mph to 75 mph and on interstates from 75 mph to 80 mph.
There were two versions of a speed limit bill in 2017. One bill was sponsored by former Sen. Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks, and the other was sponsored by state Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo.
“They both unfortunately didn’t pass, but hopefully this time we’ll have a better shot,” Blum said.
Koppelman said it was a costly fiscal note from the state Department of Transportation that doomed his bill. NDDOT estimated in 2017 the state would have to pay $155,000 to implement a new speed limit and at least $3.27 million to reconstruct roadways to handle higher speeds.
“Here’s what’s different this time: We are proposing something now that our two neighboring states, Montana and South Dakota, have had in place for several years,” Koppelman said. “I think having those statistics on our side and showing that in other states they did not have to make changes. Their roads were built with the same federal specifications as ours. Originally they were built to handle between 75 and 80 mph, but they were not required in South Dakota to rebuild any of the on- and off-ramps or reconstruct any of the interstates to handle the 80 mph speed.”
A spokesperson from NDDOT said the department was unable to comment until it has more information.
The House hasn’t scheduled the bill for any committees yet, but Blum said he anticipates it will go to the House committee on transportation and see a hearing within two weeks.
“This bill is all about efficiency,” Blum said. “Our state is really a corridor of commerce, and I think this bill reflects that. It will allow for more efficient travel for North Dakotans, and given modern vehicles are so technologically advanced and built for sustained speed and travel, I think this is the right thing to do.”