A little bit faster now -- Highway 13 speed limit to increase

Friday, March 28, 2014

After requests and discussion by the Missouri Highway 13 Coalition and a speed study conducted by the Missouri Department of Transportation, a stretch of the highway's speed limit will increase from 55 to 60 mph Tuesday, April 8.

The section increasing is between Grange Road approximately 2,000 feet north of Interstate 70, on the roadway, and Gingerbread Lane, in Higginsville. The shoulders along that portion were widened in late September 2013, along with a roadway resurfacing and the addition of rumble strips. These changes also helped with approval of the limit's change.

The speed limit will remain 40 mph between 36th Street, in Higginsville, and the north city limits, as well as 45 mph in the 2,500-foot section surrounding the I-70/Highway 13 junction.

Speed studies, according to MoDOT Area Engineer Mike McGrath, look at accident numbers, whether the accidents are speed related, the average speed motorists are traveling, amount of turning traffic and if there are any traffic signals. He explained limits are set within the 85th percentile -- the speed 85 percent of motorists travel on a given roadway.

"If the limit is set lower than that percentile, there is a possibility for more accidents," said McGrath.

Last year, according to data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were 24 crashes in the Higginsville area with nearly half along Highway 13 when the speed limit was still 55 mph.

Business leaders in Higginsville are encouraged by the change to the speed limits.

"It will be very beneficial for businesses in Higginsville," said Monica Ritter, Higginsville Chamber of Commerce president. "We use the highway to promote community and chamber events."

She added the increased speed will likely increase the number of motorists viewing the advertisements for events. Ritter also said more people may begin to use the highway, rather than U.S. Highway 65 to travel south, because of the change.

"Any time you can get an increased traffic flow or other people to come through your community, that is a benefit," she said.

The coalition learned of the speed limit change at its March 10 meeting. According to Higginsville Mayor Bill Kolas, motorists were already traveling at 60 mph in the approximately 5 mile stretch. He explained police department observations and tickets helped inform him of people driving above the speed limit in that area. Kolas believes this will increase motorist safety.

"It's a benefit for the city. Traffic will move better and more expediently," he said. "It is more consistent with the speed limit north of town, which is 60 mph."

Kolas added he hopes this consistency will decrease rear-end collisions, since people traveling from the north are used to the 60 mph speed limit and the 55 mph limit is unexpected. He said approval of the change was approved by MoDOT prior to the March 10 meeting of the coalition, of which he's a member.

Timeline:

August 2013 -- Higginsville Mayor Bill Kolas moves that the Mo. Highway 13 Coalition endorse the city of Higginsville's request to raise the speed limit to 60 mph. The motion is approved and Missouri Department of Transportation Area Engineer Mike McGrath makes arrangements for a speed study.

September -- Kolas again moves that the coalition endorse the speed limit increase. The coalition approves and McGrath again makes arrangements for the speed study.

October -- McGrath informs the coalition speed studies are being conducted by the MoDOT Traffic Division.

November -- Speed studies completed by MoDOT. Coalition requests Kolas and city of Higginsville develop ordinance or resolution about speed limit changes on the highway within city boundaries.

December -- City of Higginsville passes resolution supporting speed limit increase. Entire Highway 13 corridor now receiving MoDOT speed study.

January 2014 -- MoDOT has not provided a definitive "yes" to increase, according to McGrath. Concerns of speed limit change include possible increase in accidents, which were voiced at the coalition meeting.

February -- McGrath informs coalition of continuing discussion with MoDOT Traffic Division.

March -- MoDOT delivers press release Thursday, March 20, informing public of speed limit increase.

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