In Karen Balvanz's estimation, bumping the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on a 100-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will simply encourage more hurried driving.

"I think, if it's 70, people will go 80-85," the Enola woman said as she pumped gas Tuesday at a Newberry Township gas station.

The mother of two teens, Balvanz said she'd prefer a lower speed limit.

"It's probably good where it's at," she said.

Nonetheless, turnpike officials announced Friday the 70 mph zone will run on Interstate 76 from the Blue Mountain interchange near Shippensburg to the Morgantown interchange south of Reading.

The higher speeds, authorized by last year's transportation funding law, begin Wednesday.

On the turnpike, a 70 mph speed limit will benefit the economy by allowing faster transportation of goods, said Renee Colborn, a spokeswoman for the turnpike.

Pilot program: Colborn described the speed change on the 100-mile stretch between Shippensburg and Reading as a "pilot program."

"This stretch, we decided to try first, just to see how it goes," she said. "The turnpike will study this for the next six to eight to 8 months. Maybe in the spring, then we'll start converting the rest of the turnpike."

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference Wednesday "to discuss plans for 70 mph speed limits on other Pennsylvania interstates."


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A PennDOT spokeswoman declined to provide more details Tuesday.

Cynthia Read said she was happy to hear about the speed limit change, but she'd prefer 70 mph extended to a larger section of the turnpike.

"It'll probably save me 5 minutes," the Etters woman said.

Karren Johnson of New Cumberland said she thinks the 65 mph speed limit is "fast enough."

Johnson said she occasionally travels the turnpike to Philadelphia. Increasing the speed limit will worsen the consequences of traffic accidents, she said.

She also expressed concern about motorists' use of cell phones while they drive.

For some people, she said, 65 mph is already beyond a comfortable traveling speed.

"That almost forces them to go faster than what they feel comfortable with," she said. "You have to go with traffic. I don't think it's necessary."

— Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.