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Hassan signs bill raising I-93 speed limit north of Concord to 70 mph

Starting next year, drivers will be able to hit the gas on Interstate 93 north of Concord.

Gov. Maggie Hassan yesterday signed a bill raising the speed limit on I-93 from 65 mph to 70 mph between mile marker 45 in Canterbury and the Vermont border, except in Franconia Notch.

The new speed limit will go into effect Jan. 1.

“We must always be cautious when considering speed-limit increases in order to maintain the safety of our citizens and of visitors using our highways,” Hassan said in a statement. “The limited nature of the 5 mph speed-limit increase in a targeted region of the state, along with the overwhelming, bipartisan support for the measure, makes me comfortable with signing this measure into law, bringing the speed limit more in line with the habits of our rural travelers.”

The legislation sailed through the Legislature this spring, passing the Democratic-controlled House on a 292-65 vote and clearing the Republican-controlled Senate on a voice vote.

The state Department of Safety opposed the bill, saying it could compromise public safety, and some lawmakers also expressed concern that faster speeds could mean lower fuel efficiency.

“When someone is sitting in a vehicle after an accident, waiting for help, that person might not feel that the extra five or 10 minutes they might have saved by driving faster would be worth the costs,” said Rep. Christy Bartlett, a Concord Democrat, during the House’s March 13 debate on the bill.

But others argued the higher speed limit better reflects the rural nature of I-93 north of Concord.

“Anybody who spends any time along 93 knows, north of here, that this is where people are driving now,” said Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Dalton Democrat, when the Senate debated the bill April 18.

All other four-lane state highways will continue to limit speeds to 65 mph. The House this year rejected three proposals to raise speed limits on other roads.

Hassan yesterday encouraged all drivers to make safety a priority.

“For their safety and the safety of others, I encourage all motorists to use the common sense that Granite Staters are known for and respect the new speed limit,” she said.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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