Montana moved one step closer Monday to putting up new speed limit signs on its highways, with lopsided House approval of a bill that calls for lower truck limits than the version passed by the Senate.
The measure was endorsed by a large margin. Once signed by the governor, the law would take effect on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend, May 28.
But the bill may run into roadblock. The Senate-passed version allowed higher truck speeds than what the House preferred, and the differences may have to be worked in a joint committee.
Senate Bill 133 would end Montana’s distinction as the only state without as posted daytime speed limit since the federal law was repealed a little more than three years ago. While Montana still had a posted limit for trucks, its “reasonable and prudent” daytime limit was declared unconstitutional.
Under the bill, cars and light trucks would have a 75 mph limit on interstate highways day and night, except in areas near Billings, Great Falls and Missoula, where the maximum would be 65 mph. The limit on two-lane roads would be 70 mph in daytime and 65 at night.
Trucks would be restricted to 65 mph at all times on interstates, while the existing two-lane limits of 60 mph during days and 55 mph at night would remain in effect. The Senate approved a 75-mph limit for trucks on interstates.
Rep. Gary Matthews tried to increase the truck limits on two-lane roads to 65 mph day and night. Allowing trucks and cars to travel at nearly the same speed will reduce instances where impatient drivers try to pass slower-moving trucks at dangerous times, he said.