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Wendy Reuer, Published October 21 2013

Speed limits to increase on Minnesota highways 75, 59 and 7

MOORHEAD – Commuters on Highway 75 will soon be able to travel a little bit faster.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is raising the speed limit of state Highway 75 from 55 mph to 60 mph.

The entire road, which stretches from south of Luverne through Breckenridge and Moorhead to the Canadian border near Noyes, will have an increased speed limit.

The speed limit on most of state Highway 59 will increase to 60 mph. Highway 59 starts in Minnesota south of Worthington, overlaps part of Interstate 94 near Fergus Falls, then passes through Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls as it reaches the Canadian border near Lake Bronson State Park.

Two parts of Highway 59, between Clarkfield and Marshall and south of I-90, will stay 55 mph because of the road’s narrow shoulders and reduced sight lines, according to a MnDOT release.

Fourteen miles of state Highway 7 between Highway 75 near Odessa and Highway 59 near Appleton will also increase to 60 mph.

Crews began installing new speed limit signs Monday. MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said it will take one to two weeks before all the signs are posted.

The speed limit will become effective as soon as the signs are posted.

“Once the sign is posted, then the speed limit is increased in the area. If you proceed, and you see 55 mph, then that’s the speed limit there,” Gutknecht said.

Clay County Chief Deputy Matt Siiro said if MnDOT says the higher speed limit is safe, the sheriff’s office has no protest.

“If they are saying 60 is now safe, we’re going to buy in to that as well,” he said.

Speeds will not change through cities.

MnDOT raised speed limits in 2005 from 55 to 60 mph on 930 miles of roads, the release stated. A study found no negative effects from the increased speed.

Engineers chose those roads because they shared similar characteristics, such as a wider paved shoulder, Gutknecht said.

Although Highway 75 is a common commuter route between Moorhead and Breckenridge, Siiro said he has not heard of residents lobbying for higher speeds.

“Generally people prefer a higher speed limit,” Gutknecht said. “It’s a long flat stretch of road; people tend to drive a little faster.”

Although most two-lane highways in neighboring North Dakota are set at 65 mph, Gutknecht said engineers say it is unlikely Minnesota will follow suit.

“We approach the increase in speed limits on two-lane roads with caution as these roads have a significantly higher fatality rate than freeways or four lane divided expressways,” the spokesman said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530