Saddle Road speed limit bill still alive

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A bill to increase the speed limit on Saddle Road has cruised past both legislative chambers — but just how much of an increase, and precisely where, is still up in the air.

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A bill to increase the speed limit on Saddle Road has cruised past both legislative chambers — but just how much of an increase, and precisely where, is still up in the air.

State Sen. Lorraine Inouye said Thursday she’s still pushing for the measure, filed as Senate Bill 2375, to bump speeds —currently 55 miles per hour in many places — to 60. Senate committees had scaled back the proposed increase from 65 to 60 mph, but House committees removed all speed changes until the bill gets more discussion in conference. Inouye said that should happen next week.

Inouye also said she’d push for the speed increase to start earlier — around mile marker 12 — rather than mile 19 as she’d initially pitched, contingent on completion of Saddle Road construction projects currently underway.

The bill also would cap the speed at 45 mph starting at the Pohakuloa Training Area and ending one-half mile east of the Mauna Kea Recreation Area entrance.

The Saddle, formally called Route 200 or the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, was once considered dangerous due to one-lane bridges and poor paving, according to a House committee report. It’s since been repaved and realigned in problem areas.

Drivers have complained the road is now a speed trap because of its frequent speed limit changes.

The Hawaii Police Department issued 2,219 speeding citations on the Saddle in 2015, up from 1,535 in 2014.

The state Department of Transportation testified April 6 in support of the measure’s “intent,” and approved a speed limit of up to 60 mph. However, the DOT believes the “bill is not necessary.”

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“We can conduct the engineering study to determine the appropriate speed limits,” the department’s testimony reads.

The DOT previously said the highway was constructed for speeds ranging from 50-60 mph.

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