I've listed a lot of reasons for why the speed limit should be lowered to 55 MPH; It saves fuel, saves lives, and five other reasons and I still get called a jerk for suggesting them. It seems that someone is listening; In Texas, they have lowered the speed limit on the free service roads beside its new toll highway to 55 MPH.
This is the same highway that they just approved an 85 MPH speed limit for. According to USA Today,
The new Texas toll road was "designed and tested for high-speed travel," says Veronica Beyer, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation. "Safety is our top priority, and tests have shown the designated speed is a safe one."
And who suggested the 55 MPH speed limit on the parallel roads? An employee of TxDot, the Spanish consortium that is operating the highway. It works like this, according to Ben Wear of the Austin Statesman.
Under TxDOT's contract with the concession company, it received a $25 million up-front payment a couple of years ago. But depending on the speed limit set by the Transportation Commission, the company is contractually obligated to pay up to an additional $100 million to TxDOT, or share toll revenue with the agency for the life of the contract. The higher the speed limit, up to a ceiling of 85 mph, the higher the payments.
So the speed limit on the highway goes up, and the speed limit on the parallel roads goes down, to encourage more people to take the toll road. Nothing about safety, fuel economy or anything but money. But I'm told that's how things work in Texas.