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Bypass speed limit increase delayed

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter


UPDATE MAY 6 — Rain has washed out the Virginia Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on U.S. 58 at Hillsville in the short term.

Though VDOT had anticipated being able to install the new superhighway speed limit signs on what's commonly known as the Hillsville bypass by May 6, but inclement weather has interfered.

VDOT official hope to install the new 65-mile-per-hour speed limit signs on the 3.4-mile section of U.S. 58 later this week after the expected three days worth of rain dries up.

ORIGINAL STORY:

HILLSVILLE — Motorists who believe they can’t drive 55 on part of U.S. 58 in Hillsville have just been given the green light from the Virginia Department of Transportation to go faster.
Drivers can now travel at superhighway speeds on one stretch of U.S. 58, without fear of committing a traffic infraction.
That’s not quite the way that VDOT officials put it in a news release last week, but transportation officials will allow people to go up to 65 mph after a recent speed study.

“The speed limit change will affect about 3.4 miles of the limited access portion of Route 58 which passes through Carroll County and the Town of Hillsville,” according to a message from VDOT.  “The new 65 mph speed limit will be in place on the Route 58 Bypass between its western interchange with Route 58 Business and 0.9 mile west of Route 820 (Freemont Road).”
The change comes under the same law that allowed for recent increases on routes like Interstate 81, according to Lisa Hughes, the VDOT administrator over Carroll County roads.
The new section of 58, often referred to as the Hillsville bypass, can accommodate the faster speeds, she said. It has limited access, wide lanes, broad shoulders, a median divider and good sight distance.
The Route 58 Hillsville Bypass met the criteria for the Virginia Department of Transportation to consider a speed limit increase as set forth in Virginia law, which allows VDOT to conduct engineering studies on limited access roads and consider raising the speed limit up to 65 mph, according to the news release.
The last traffic count put the average number of vehicles using that part of 58 at about 2,881.
“We try to post realistic speed limits and that can easily accommodate a 65 mph speed,” Hughes said. “It is hard to do 55 and that’s why we felt a more realistic speed was appropriate.”
VDOT officials plan to install the 65 mph speed limit signs by today, Monday.