Speed limits on roads outside of Lea County are changing at the beginning of the year.
The Texas Transportation Commission has approved a request to lower speed limits on five rural highways in the Odessa District. The changes will be put in place at these locations:
¦ U.S. Highway 285 from the New Mexico state line to the northern city limits of Pecos. The new speed limit will be 65 miles per hour.
¦ Highway 302 from Notrees to U.S. Highway
285. The new speed limit will be 65 miles per hour.
¦ RM 652 from the Culberson County line to the New Mexico state line. The new speed limit will be 65 miles per hour.
¦ Highway 18 from the New Mexico state line to the northern city limits of Kermit. The new speed limit will be 70 miles per hour.
¦ Highway 18 from the southern city limits of Kermit in Winkler County to the northern city limits of Monahans in Ward County. The new speed limit will be 70 miles per hour.
All of these new speed limits reflect a drop of five miles per hour from the previous speed limits.
“This is being done in the interest of safety for the traveling public,” Odessa District Engineer John Speed said. “We recognize that some will not appreciate this decision, but we feel it is the best course of action in terms of safety. We encourage motorists to follow all traffic laws and exercise patience when using this corridor.”
New speed limit signs are scheduled to be installed in January on Highway 302 and Highway 18. Installation of new signs on U.S. Highway 285 and RM 652 will occur as contractors progress in projects and work zone speed limits are taken out. Once signs are installed, the new speed limit can be enforced by law enforcement.
Meanwhile, a main road to get to Albuquerque from southeast New Mexico is seeing its speed limit increased.
Beginning in January, the speed along a section of U.S. 285 between Roswell and Vaughn will be increased to 75 mph. New signs for the area are being prepared and will be installed on northbound and southbound lanes between mile marker 128 and mile marker 200.
A major consideration in the decision to change the existing speed limit was the 85th Percentile Rule – a nationally accepted guideline that uses speed studies to help determine speed limits. According to the 85th Percentile Rule, an appropriate speed limit is one that is not exceeded by 85 percent of the drivers along a corridor.
Engineers in the traffic section also identify and consider other factors, including; traffic crash data, traffic volumes, roadside development, roadway configuration and condition, the number of intersections and driveways, and sidewalks.
The N.M. Department of Transportation reminds motorists to follow the basic speed laws and to drive safely.