OLYMPIA – Lawmakers are considering a 75 mph speed limit for parts of Interstate 90 in Eastern Washington, but state officials are advising them not to do it.
Two years ago, the Legislature asked the state Transportation Department to study the higher speed limit for parts of I-90 east between Ellensburg and the Spokane County border. The department concluded it would cut travel time along the route by a total of about five minutes, cost more in fuel and traffic accidents that it would save in time, and likely increase the number of fatalities.
When the department refused to raise the speed limit, Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, one of the cosponsors of the 2015 law, introduced a bill this year to take the decision out of the department’s hands. Senate Bill 5053 would raise the speed to 75 mph between Ellensburg and milepost 120, and between George and the Spokane county line, and wouldn’t let the secretary of Transportation reduce it.
Representatives of the department, the Washington State Patrol and Traffic Safety Commission told the Senate Transportation Committee this was a bad idea, for all of the conclusions in the previous study. The committee will decide in the coming weeks whether to send the proposal to the full Senate.