Speed limits on county roads lowered to 35 mph
Commissioners court 'inundated' with calls saying 60 mph limits presented safety problem

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

April 14, 2004 -- Speed limits will soon become effective on county roads in Hopkins County following action earlier this week by county commissioners.

The order approved by the commissioners court said speed limits on all county roads outside a municipality and not a part of the state highway system will be reduced from 60 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour.

A section of the state's transportation code allows counties to establish and enforce speed limits on county roads. If a speed limit is not set, the speed limit is, by default, 60 miles per hour.

"We have been inundated with calls from people in all parts of the county telling of small children, dangerous curves, around churches and other places where people gather, [that] speed presents a safety problem," said Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap.

A majority of the county roads have either a gravel surface or an oil top, and slower speeds could also mean a slight reduction in the annual costs for upkeep of the roads.

Although some areas may actually need a speed slower than 35, Millsap said, state law requires an engineering study if the desired speed is below that number.

The new limits will become effective as soon as new speed limit signs can be obtained and installed on county roads.

"This will give warning to those people that want to travel faster than a safe and prudent speed to slow down," Millsap said. "Speed is a factor when negotiating a curve, going up a hill or coming up on an intersection, and people should slow down."

The cost of making the signs and placing them along county roads will be more than any money the county might receive from speeding tickets given those ignoring the new speed limits on the county roads.

"We're not looking at this from a revenue standpoint," the judge said. "This is totally from the safety aspect, but if someone is caught speeding they will get their day in court and could be fined."

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