Issue of higher speed limit dead for now

PHOENIX (AP) – Legislation to allow state transportation officials to up the speed limit to 80 mph on rural stretches of interstates is dead, a key lawmaker said Tuesday.

The Senate on March 9 approved a bill to allow – but not require – the Arizona Department of Transportation to raise the current 75 mph limit for interstate highways outside urban areas.

Under the bill, ADOT could raise the limit if it decides that terrain and other conditions permit cars to travel that fast.

The Senate action sent the bill (SB1221) to the House, where Transportation Committee Chairman Gary Pierce said he won't allow it to be considered.

"I'm not going to waste the House's time."

Pierce, R-Mesa, said the bill is unnecessary and that he wants to gut the measure and use it as a vehicle for a different piece of highway legislation.

The other legislation would require ADOT to study the effectiveness of median barriers on the Arizona 101 freeway in Scottsdale.

"The bottom line is that the department can do a study of speed limits without legislation," Pierce said.