HOUSTON — Transportation officials in Texas are testing a new 41-mile segment of highway to see whether it would be safe to post the state’s first 85 mph speed limit, setting it on a path to have the highest posted speed limit in the U.S.
The Texas Department of Transportation is considering the move on a portion of state Highway 130 that would run north-south between Austin and Seguin, a town just east of San Antonio, spokesman Mark Cross said Thursday.
The agency is looking at the toll road’s topography, checking what speed most drivers are traveling on existing parts of the highway and ensuring the access points and cross-sections would still be safe with an 85 mph speed limit, Cross said.
If Texas decides to go this route, that segment of road would have the highest posted speed limit in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2011, the Texas Legislature upped the maximum speed limit from 80 mph to 85 mph, but only for future highways.
Right now, only sparsely populated areas of West Texas have roads with 80 mph speed limits. Some roads in Utah also have 80 mph speed limits, but most highways in the U.S. top out at 75 mph. There are no longer roads in the United States that have no speed limit, like Germany’s autobahn.
The idea behind increasing the speed limit is to relieve congestion on state roads.