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Article posted: 4/23/2013 8:02 PM

Illinois Senate: Raise speed limit to 70 mph

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD -- Lead-footed drivers could be in luck after the Illinois Senate Tuesday approved legislation to raise the speed limit on tollways and interstates to 70 mph.

Under the plan from state Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, both cars and trucks would be allowed to go the faster speed.

Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties would be allowed to opt out and keep speed limits at their current levels if local officials wanted. In general, the speed limit for Illinois tollways and interstates is 65 mph, with 55 the limit in more congested areas.

"The rest of the country is at 70 or even 75," Oberweis said. "And it seems that Illinois was out of line, and I think this is a step in the right direction."

Oberweis' plan was approved by a 41-6 vote. But drivers shouldn't raise their speeds yet. The Illinois House and Gov. Pat Quinn have to approve the change.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police led by Quinn have objected to raising speed limits for safety reasons.

Oberweis has argued that drivers often go faster than the posted limit anyway.

Most of the debate on the Senate floor was in jest.

"Does this include delivery trucks?" asked state Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat.

"Yes, Senator, even milk delivery trucks," Oberweis, a dairy magnate, replied.

The last argument over speed limits in Illinois went on for years before lawmakers eventually approved allowing semitrailer trucks to go up to 65 mph on downstate interstates like the rest of traffic.

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