The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors recently approved an administrative rule change needed to increase the speed limit to 70 mph on some rural segments of the Tollway.

The recommendation follows a change in state law signed by Governor Pat Quinn that increases the maximum speed permitted on Illinois roads from 65 mph to 70 mph, beginning January 1, 2014.
“We’re committed to enacting this law responsibly while maintaining the high standard of safety that has always been our top priority,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur.

The Tollway must satisfy procedural requirements in order to increase speed limits on its system, including conducting an engineering study and receiving approval from the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). A recommendation will also be sent to the Illinois Department of Transportation for concurrence. Once JCAR approves the rule change, the Secretary of State will publish the rule change and the updated signs reflecting the new speed limit will be posted.

The Tollway has completed speed limit studies for all non-urban segments of the Tollway system. Based on these studies, the Tollway will seek to increase the speed limit on select rural segments of the Tollway system, including:
• The Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) west of the I-39 interchange in Winnebago County (15 miles).
• The Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) west of Route 47 in Kane, DeKalb, Ogle and Lee counties (64 miles).
• The Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80) north of Stearns School Road in Lake County (pending speed limit increase on I-94 in Wisconsin) (6 miles).

If implemented, the new 70 mph speed limit will apply to all vehicles on I-90 and on I-88 west of Kane County. However, the higher speed limit on the northern portion of the Tri-State Tollway, and an 8-mile segment of I-88 in Kane County extending west of Route 47 to the DeKalb County border, will apply only to passenger and commercial vehicles weighing no more than 8,000 pounds, or 4 tons. The speed limit for larger trucks on those two segments will remain at 55 mph, the limit currently set by the state’s vehicle code for trucks in the Chicago metro area, which includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

By law, the current minimum speed limit on the Tollway system is 45 mph. As part of the changes to the administrative rules approved by the Board today, the Tollway will also seek to increase the minimum speed limit from 45 mph to 55 mph where the speed limit is 65 or 70 mph to help keep traffic flowing evenly.

The new speed limits will take effect in January 2014, once the new signs are posted.

The Tollway may seek to increase the speed limit to 70 mph on other non-urban segments of the Tollway system in the future, pending changes such as the completion of current roadway construction projects and other operational factors.

The law signed by Governor Pat Quinn amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to allow speed limit increases only outside of legally designated “urban districts.” Urban districts are defined as areas adjoining any street containing homes or businesses spaced less than 100 feet apart for at least one-quarter of a mile.