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UDOT hits the brakes on higher HOV speed limit; other bills move forward

UDOT hits the brakes on higher HOV speed limit; other bills move forward


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah HOV lane users who would like to legally drive faster won't get their wish.

That's because the Utah Highway Patrol quickly put the brakes on HB264 Thursday, a proposal to allow the Utah Department of Transportation to raise express lane speed limits to 75 mph along parts of the Wasatch Front.

"We have a great concern with 75," UHP Superintendant Col. Daniel Fuhr told House Transportation Committee members. "People will not travel (just) 75 mph. They're going to push the envelope as they always do."

With a higher HOV lane speed limit of even 70 mph, "You would see traffic at 80 almost immediately," Fuhr added.

He cited concerns for both public safety and trooper safety should the bill pass.

Motorists following too closely to each other is the primary cause of accidents along the I-15 corridor, Fuhr added. Faster speeds would raise the distance a vehicle travels once the driver decides to hit the brakes to 300 feet, a dangerous level in that area, Fuhr said.

The bill's sponsor Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, said he made the proposal to entice more drivers into the HOV lanes during mid-day hours when, because of decreased traffic, Express Pass tolls are only 25 cents.

That UDOT electronic toll payment system is just breaking even, Sumsion said.

The committee effectively pulled Sumsion's proposal over, voting to refer the bill back to the House Rules Committee for "possible" interim study.

Other bills discussed by lawmakers Thursday include:

  • HB87 & SB136: Billboard amendments and revisionsMayor Ralph Becker's bid to prevent electronic billboards from popping up throughout Utah's capital city is facing a challenge on Capitol Hill. Identical bills were introduced in the state Senate and House on Wednesday aimed at preventing Salt Lake City from passing an ordinance that would limit electronic billboards to freeways and likely reduce the number of the large roadside signs in the city. The legislation, if approved, would prohibit all Utah municipalities and counties from enacting or enforcing restrictions on billboard owners other than by eminent domain. The bills also state that a municipality may not use eminent domain to prevent a billboard from being upgraded to an electronic sign. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • HB286, HB287 & SB125: Redistricting billsThree bills adjusting Utah's electoral district boundaries for the next 10 years took one more step to becoming laws Thursday as they unanimously passed the Utah House and Senate. HB286 that realigns the state legislative House districts to conform with population shifts recorded by the 2010 U.S. Census passed 73-0. And HB287 that realigns State Board of Education electoral districts passed the House 70-0. The Senate also passed SB125 26-0 Thursday that realigns its election district boundaries. The bills are in response to county clerks who found problems with the boundaries of legislative and State School Board districts approved by the Legislature in October. The boundaries were redrawn to adjust to the 2010 Census population changes. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • HB50: State political donationsSALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would eliminate state contributions to political parties passed the House on Thursday, and its sponsor said he hoped the change would prevent efforts to change the state Republican Party's nominating system. HB50 would eliminate the $2 Election Campaign Fund check-off option from state individual tax returns. When a taxpayer selects the option, the state must now pay money to one of four state parties of their choice, but it does not add an individual's tax liability. CLICK HERE to read more.

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Written with contributions from Ladd Brubaker and Jared Page.

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Ladd Brubaker and Jared Page

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