- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State officials announced Wednesday that drivers will soon be allowed to go 75 mph on 600 miles of Michigan freeways, including major corridors connecting the state’s northern and southern regions.

The first freeways affected are Interstate 75 between Bay City and Sault Ste. Marie, stretches of U.S. 127 from north of Lansing to the Grayling area, and U.S. 131 between suburban Grand Rapids and northern Michigan. New signs, which the state will start updating Monday to replace 70 mph limits, will be installed on those three freeways by mid-May.

Other places where motorists will legally be able to drive 75 mph later this year include much of I-69 between Lansing and Port Huron, U.S. 10 in central Michigan and U.S. 31 near Ludington.

The state also announced Wednesday 900 miles of roads where limits will increase from 55 mph to 65 mph, providing web links to a list and a map . All of the new 75 mph and 65 mph limits will be posted by mid-November.

The higher speeds are required under a new law that Gov. Rick Snyder signed in January. It allows the new limits only if engineering and safety studies indicate it is OK and if 85 percent of traffic survey already is traveling at those speeds on the affected highways.

State Transportation Department Director Kirk Steudle said his agency and the Michigan State Police reviewed design speeds, crash patterns, traffic volumes and other factors in choosing where to raise the limits.

The 85th-percentile speed analysis is a “national scientifically proven method to determine and establish safe speed limits,” Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the state police, said in a statement.

The law also raises the maximum speed limit for trucks and school buses from 60 mph to 65 mph and reduces some speeding penalties that can affect drivers’ licenses and their insurance premiums.

It is not clear yet how much it will cost to install signs and do other related work. Long term, the increased limits may prompt road design changes and modifications of guardrails.

State officials said they will closely watch crash data on the affected segments of road.

Eighteen states now authorize 75 mph or higher speed limits on some roads, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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Online:

List of affected routes: https://bit.ly/2q6cxUM

Map of affected routes: https://bit.ly/2owGHUg

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Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert

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