DOTD Announces 70 Mph Speed Limit on I-55 to be Restored
Thursday, December 18, 2003 at 12:00:00 AM

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announced today that the speed limit on the elevated section of I-55 between Ponchatoula and the I-10/I-55 junction near LaPlace will be restored to 70 mph on Monday, December 22, from approximately 9 a.m. to noon. No lane closures or delays are anticipated.

            The restoration of the 70 mph speed limit on this elevated section of I-55 is based on recommendations submitted to DOTD Secretary Kam Movassaghi and Governor Mike Foster by an interagency task force. Formed in 1998, following a series of crashes on I-10 over the Atchafalaya Basin, the task force’s 1999 report resulted in lowering the speed limit to 60 mph on five elevated interstate segments in south Louisiana:  I-10 over the Atchafalaya Basin, I-10 over the Bonnet Carre Spillway, the I-10 New Orleans East Twin Spans, I-55 over the Manchac Swamp and I-310 over the Labranche Wetlands.  The task force reconvened in June 2003 to review the status of initial recommendations and accident statistics.

     According to the group's second report, the speed limit restoration on the I-55 segment is based on that section's lower volume of passenger vehicles and trucks, and the installation of several safety enhancements. These enhancements included raised reflective striping, mile markers every tenth of a mile, and a weather-based advisory speed system that includes fog warning devices and variable message boards. DOTD, in conjunction with the State Police, will have the ability to advise the motoring public of the maximum safe speed for any given condition.

     The work on Monday will include the removal of the existing 60 mph signs and installation of 70 mph signs located under the new advisory speed limit signs. State Representative Henry "Tank" Powell (R-Ponchatoula), a long time advocate of restoring the 70 mph speed limits to the I-55 elevated segments, stated that he was pleased with the action. "With these safety enhancements in place, I am confident that the 70 mph speed limit is justified and in the best interest of the public."

     Movassaghi echoed the task force's conclusion by stating, "DOTD has implemented the safety measures recommended in this study and will continue to monitor the situation, but nothing we do will have as great an effect on highway safety as motorists driving in a reasonable and prudent manner."