York County drivers could have a lot riding on 100 miles of two interstates in northern Pennsylvania.
The state Department of Transportation this week announced a pilot program to raise the speed limits on portions of Interstate 80 in Clearfield and Clinton counties and Interstate 380 in Lackawanna and Monroe counties from 65 mph to 70 mph.
Depending on how that experiment goes, speed limits on other interstates in Pennsylvania – including I-83 – could be bumped up as well.
Wednesday's announcement came a day after the Turnpike Commission raised the speed limit on a 97-mile stretch of I-76 in central and eastern Pennsylvania from 65 mph to 70 mph.
The commission will study the results of that change, also with an eye toward easing speed limits on other parts of the toll road.
By next summer, Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said, 70 mph signs could be added to more than 900 miles on interstates 78, 79, 81, 83, 84 and 90, plus Routes 15, 28, 219 and 220,
If it seems like these changes are happening fast, you're right. It was just last November that the state's new transportation spending bill authorized increased speed limits on some highways.
We can only hope the state isn't rushing the increases along, and that a year is long enough to determine if higher speeds would cause more crashes.
For instance, even if the pilot program shows 70 mph is safe for, say, 21 miles of Interstate 380 in northeastern Pennsylvania, how do we know Interstate 83 from Emigsville to Harrisburg can handle the same increase?
We're not saying it can't — in fact, we hope it and other area roads can safely support faster-moving traffic.
But let's make sure before we open the throttle.