Speed limit goes up to 65 mph

Brief by Central Staff

Transporation – September 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

Upping the Limit

Signs like this one have been sprouting all over Central Colorado lately as the Colorado Department of Transportation has completed its studies and increased speed limits on many roads. This came after Congress returned such authority to the states, after years of a national 55 mph speed limit.

According to CDOT, the process is completed hereabouts, with the exception of the stretch between Buena Vista and Salida — they’re still considering it.

The changeover didn’t go smoothly — local law enforcers weren’t notified, and sometimes didn’t know about the new 65-mph limit until they had pulled someone over and started writing a ticket, only to hear “What about that 65 sign I just passed?”

Regional lore had it that, back in the 55 days, the safest place to speed was in the Saguache County portion of U.S. 50 east of Gunnison — the trooper for that stretch was based in Gunnison, and he didn’t like to drive the 70 miles to county court in Saguache if someone took the ticket to court.

And so, he waited until the eastbound speeder had crossed the county line near Sargents before turning on the lights and siren. However, we can’t speak from personal knowledge about this.

In general, we thought the 55-mph speed limit was a good idea around here — if you’re in a hurry, go find an interstate or buy an airplane. Otherwise, enjoy the abundant scenery.

But even with that relaxed attitude, we often found ourselves exceeding the limit on certain stretches, such as U.S. 285 between Antero Junction and Fairplay, or U.S. 24 east from Antero Junction, or anywhere on Colo. 17 from Mineral Hot Springs to Alamosa.

We had feared that the people who drove 65 when the limit was 55 would be going 75 when the limit was raised to 65. But so far, we haven’t noticed that, and from what we read, neither has the state patrol.