Limited local control proposed for speed limits

Certain cities and villages could lower maximum speed limits under a proposal heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee Feb. 1.

Sen. Steve Erdman
Sen. Steve Erdman

Currently, cities with at least 40,000 residents can lower local speed limits on highways within their corporate limits when hazardous conditions exist. LB164, sponsored by Bayard Sen. Steve Erdman, would extend this option to cities and villages with as few as 500 residents.

Small towns like Oshkosh cannot lower speed limits at dangerous intersections currently, Erdman said, because state law requires the state Department of Transportation to follow federal requirements.

“It’s time for the [department] to make decisions in these small communities that affect their well-being and safety instead of falling behind federal [requirements] and hiding there,” he said.

Moe Jamshidi, acting director of the state Department of Transportation, opposed the bill. LB164 would diminish an important safety component, he said, by violating a federal requirement that speed limit changes be based on traffic engineering studies.

“We believe safety is potentially degraded when speed limit determinations are altered by local governing boards on their individual interpretations of perceived hazards at certain highway locations,” Jamshidi said.

No one testified in support of the proposal and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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