ODOT wants to set variable speed limits on interstates across Ohio

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Department of Transportation is seeking permission to change the speed limit on interstates statewide.

Right now ODOT is allowed to impose variable speed limits based on road conditions on only a select few areas.

When bad weather hits it can impact the safety conditions on the roads. That’s why ODOT is asking lawmakers to allow the department to have control over where to change the speed limit on interstates. 

“There are two purposes that we would use variable speed limits for in the state of Ohio. One of them is for weather conditions, one is for traffic congestion,” said Matt Bruning, press secretary for The Ohio Department of Transportation.

Right now electronic variable speed limit signs are used in Lake County on I-90 east of Cleveland 

“That area is frequented by whiteout conditions due to lake effect snow squalls that come in off Lake Erie,” Bruning explained.

They’ll soon be used in Columbus on I-670 on the east side when traffic is heavy. 

“What we are simply asking the legislature to do remove the restrictions that limit it to those two locations, plus a third in Cincinnati,” Bruning said.

Bruning said since adding the electronic variable speed limit signs on I-90, there have been no major crashes. The purpose of the speed limit changes –  to stop pileups during dangerous weather due to fog, snow, ice or rain 

Over the weekend in Wisconsin a driver was killed when 131 vehicles piled-up on an interstate due to whiteout conditions. Bruning says ODOT is trying to prevent that from happening in Ohio. 

The variable speed limit signs will not replace the permanent signs on the highway, they will be in select locations and manually operated. 

Ohio drivers we spoke with approve of ODOT’s request. 

“I think it’s a real good idea. That way that way you save a lot of accidents and keep traffic flowing,” said driver Josh Fisher.

“Probably wouldn’t be a bad thing. Now you wouldn’t want it to become were they can change it and start making a moneymaker, a speed trap. But when it’s warranted I think it makes sense,” motorist Aaron Flynt said.

ODOT says the variable speed limit signs on I-670 in Columbus will be operational later this year. 

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