Could Rising Speed Limit Cause Rising Problems?

LAKE CITY (KAIT)- The drive through Lake City got a little faster this week after the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department raised the speed limit from 40 up to 50.

On a map you can see Highway 18 splits Lake City virtually in half.

But for police, a higher speed limit could mean more problems.

"We've written tickets as high as up into the 80's already in the 40. Now that they are giving them 50, I'm afraid we are going to be facing the same problems."

Chief Winred Saffell says while the new five-lane is bringing more traffic through the city, which could add up to money for the local economy, with more than 60 driveways connected to Highway 18, safety of residents could be in jeopardy.

"That's kind of a big concern of ours, is our people being able to get on the highway to travel to work, to school, and to home. With the traffic going as fast as it is, they are just kind of pulling into a gauntlet," said Saffell.

Therefore in order to keep his residents safe, he and his officers will have put more attention on speeding.

"Even at 45 we've always give a little bit. Now, if we allow just a little bit, they are going to be at 60 miles per hour, which is even in excess of most state highways around anywhere," said Saffell.

But with new signs in place, it's his hopes that people will simply obey the law and that the change will be a positive one.

"I think the four-lane will be good for the city in the long run. You know, I think it's going to help us grow, but I just hope that we don't have a speed so fast out here that we lose citizens versus the town growing," said Saffell.

Chief Saffell says he never really understood why the speed limit was dropped from 45 to 40 in the first place, and says he feels the original speed limit of 45 was a happy medium.

Meanwhile the State Highway and Transporation Department says after widening Highway 18 and doing a review, it was determined the road could handle an increased speed limit safely.

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