Speed limits on Highway 82 rise | AspenTimes.com

Speed limits on Highway 82 rise

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

On Thursday, a driver passes a new posted speed limit along Highway 82. A one-mile stretch just west of the roundabout traveling downvalley was previously 35 mph and is now 45 mph, between mile posts 38 and 40. Traveling upvalley, from just west of Harmony Road to mile post 38, the speed limit is now 55 mph, when it was previously 50 mph.

The Colorado Department of Transportation raised speed limits along Highway 82 this week after Pitkin County and Aspen received complaints that speed limits were too low.

A one-mile stretch just west of the roundabout traveling downvalley on Highway 82 was previously 35 mph and is now 45 mph, between mile posts 38 and 40. Traveling upvalley, from just west of Harmony Road to mile post 38 on Highway 82, the speed limit is now 55 mph, when it was previously 50 mph.

Pitkin County and Aspen both asked CDOT to examine Highway 82 between mile posts 36 and 40.

"They were receiving complaints about the low speed limits in the area," CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said. "Looking at their requests, we agreed that the posted limits were probably lower than … what a driver could expect on a suburban four-lane highway."

CDOT's target speed limit is that at which 85 percent of drivers feel comfortable on a particular road. Trulove said studies show that any speed limit posted beyond that results in increased speeding and safety risks. Because optimal speeds are based on driver comfort level, a higher speed limit can be safer, she said.

In an email to the Aspen City Council, City Engineer Trish Aragon said drivers are more likely to get into accidents in traffic when traveling significantly below the average speed.

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"That means that if the average speed on the highway is 45 mph, the person traveling at 35 mph is more likely to be involved in an accident than someone going 45 or even 50 mph," she wrote. "Speed alone is rarely the cause of accidents. Differences in speed are the main problem. Reasonable speed limits help traffic to flow at a safer, more uniform pace."

herk@aspentimes.com

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