Turnpike (copy) (copy)

Traffic moves along an expanded stretch of the Turner Turnpike west of Kellyville. Senate Bill 648 by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, would increase the maximum speed to 80 mph on turnpikes and to 75 mph on rural sections of the interstate highway system. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

OKLAHOMA CITY — A legislative panel on Tuesday passed a bill that could result in increased speed limits on turnpikes and highways in rural areas.

The Senate Transportation Committee passed Senate Bill 648 by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow.

The measure would increase the maximum speed to 80 mph on turnpikes. Some turnpikes have a 75 mph maximum speed. The state’s two urban turnpikes, the Creek and Kilpatrick, have a maximum speed of 70 mph.

The measure would also increase the maximum speed to 75 mph on rural sections of the interstate highway system.

It allows the Transportation Commission to make such designations.

“Provided, however, the commission shall determine prior to the designation of such segments that public safety will not be jeopardized,” according to the measure.

The measure passed by a vote of 7-1. Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, voted against it. Hicks said she had some public safety concerns about the measure.

The bill heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

Transportation Secretary-designate Tim Gatz said he has some concerns about raising the speed limit on turnpikes, adding that they are not designed for such speeds.

In addition, increased speeds also put road workers at risk, he said.

Gatz said he plans to visit with Silk about his concerns.

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Barbara Hoberock

405-528-2465

barbara.hoberock@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @bhoberock

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