Gov. Quinn Vetos Raise In Tollway Speed Limits
Back at the end up May, the Illinois General Assembly finished passing Senate Bill 2015.
The vote on a bill to increase the speed limit on Illinois Tollways to 70 mph wasn’t even close–in fact the votes were veto proof.
In the Illinois Senate the vote was 48-6. In the House of Representatives it was even more of a blowout with 111 members for and four votes against.
But despite the overwhelming support, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed the bill this past Tuesday.
“Recent evidence shows that drivers already travel at excessive speeds on Illinois toll highways,” said Quinn in a letter explaining his veto. “The THA (Toll Highway Authority) conducted a study of drivers on I-94 in Lake County in 2013 and found that 71% of drivers sampled exceeded the posted speed limit by more than 15 miles per hour. A second, more thorough study conducted by the THA measured speeds on seven different toll highway segments and found that between 91 and 98% of drivers exceeded posted speed limits by rates ranging from 11 to 15 mph during off peak hours.”
This bill, sponsored by State Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), was meant to clarify language in an original bill that was intended to increase the speed limit on expressways across the entire state to 70 mph. While Quinn did sign the original bill, his office interpreted the law to apply only to areas outside the greater Chicagoland area.
At the time, Oberweis accused Quinn of misunderstanding the bill.
The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway Authority both declined to increase area speed limits despite evidence most drivers were already traveling at speeds far above the 55 mph limit in place.
As the original sponsor, Oberweis got clarifications in the bill to essentially force the Illinois Tollway to increase speed limits to 70 mph or prove there’s a legitimate reason for keeping speed limits at 55 mph.
Speed limit reform activist Steven Doner doesn’t believe Quinn’s veto will stand after the General Assembly reconvenes for a veto session in November after the election.
“The bill passed by veto-proof majorities in both houses – over 90% so Quinn’s veto accomplishes nothing except maybe to ingratiate himself to those in the speeding ticket revenue stream (insurance companies, traffic attorneys, the court system, police agencies, etc),” says Doner. “The bill was intended to clarify legislation passed last year. The original bill already applied to the entire Chicago metro area. Under the new bill (which will now pass in spite of Quinn) puts the onus on the Tollway to prove that a 70 mph speed limit would be unsafe if they want to post a lower limit.”
In other words, wait until November’s veto session.
Doner is excited at the prospect of the bill finally passing this October.