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Need for speed in NY? Mixed reviews on push for 75 mph speed limit

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- You may be able to press the pedal harder on interstate highways, including the New York State Thruway, if a recent push to increase the speed limit to 75 miles per hour is successful.

"I do drive on the Thruway and I think the observations that you're hearing are absolutely right. If you go 65, you're almost obstructing traffic," said Assemblyman Marc Butler - (R) 118th district.

It's been a nation-wide trend this year, with five state legislatures voting to raise the speed limits in their states. Now, Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda hopes New York is next. He introduced a bill to the New York State Assembly to raise the speed limit on New York interstate highways to 75 miles per hour.

In Utica, if it passes, the only interstate impacted would be the New York State Thruway because I-790 won't be able to accommodate a higher speed.

"It's not likely because of the length of the interstate we have in that area. It's a short length and it may not be prudent enough to have it to 75. It's not likely," said James Papaleo, assistant traffic engineer in region two of the Department of Transportation.

Some drivers are jumping on board.

"In today's society, where everything is in a rush, why are we holding back?" said Sara Allen, a driver who supports the bill.

But there are some concerns, like decreased gas mileage and most importantly, safety behind the wheel.

"I rather it not be raised because I think the speed limit 65 now and people do 75 and if it was 75, people would do 85 and I think that's outrageous," said Bonnie Sanchez, a driver who opposes the bill.

"You get up in the 80's and you're moving at a pretty good speed and if you get an inexperienced driver and the lane changing that's going on, you have to make decisions that much quicker, I think there and then it becomes a real safety element that needs to be taken into account," said Assemblyman Butler.

Sixteen states in the U.S. have speed limits 75 miles per hour and over, but some say New York should be left out of that category.

"Six months of the year you could be driving on ice here and I'm not sure I want to see that at 75 miles an hour in the winter," said Ed Welsh, regional general manager, AAA.

And if  you're pressing harder on the pedal, you're going to use more gas.

"You start using gas in five percent increments for every five miles an hour. So you put a 10 mile per hour [more] speed limit up there, you're going to see a 10 percent drop in your gas mileage minimally," said Welsh.

The assembly goes back into session after the first of the year and the bill will be discussed then.

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