TAZEWELL — Motorists traveling Rt. 19-460 in Tazewell County now have higher speed limits in most sections.
New signs have been placed indicating the limits, with most of the four-lane highway between Bluefield, Va. and the Russell County line now posting a 60 mph speed limit, up from 55.
Two sections, at the limited access points near Bluefield and Tazewell, have increased from 55 to 65.
Some of those increases, including at the Tazewell limited access area, were put into place in the fall. In Bluefield, almost four miles of Rt. 19-460 now is 65 mph, from exit 1 to exit 3.
Michelle Earl, with the Virginia Department of Highways (VDOT) office in Bristol, Va., said the changes were the result of traffic studies.
“These sections met the criteria for VDOT to consider the speed limit changes,” she said, adding that the adjustments became possible after a bill passed in the state General Assembly in 2004.
That law allows VDOT to conduct engineering studies on limited access roads such as the Route 19 Lebanon Bypass and the Route 19/460 Tazewell Bypass and consider raising the speed limit up to 70 mph, she said.
Some sections, like the interchange in Claypool Hill that has a traffic signal, remain at 55.
The alignment of the road, spacing of interchanges, operating speed and crash history led VDOT to determine that 65 mph was an acceptable speed for those limited access sections of Route 19/460 at the Tazewell and Bluefield by-passes, she said.
Most of the other sections of the highway in the county, where business and residential access is common, have now increased from 55 to 60.
She said VDOT coordinated with the Virginia State Police and local officials before the speed limit changes were finalized.
The stretch of highway was almost all 55 mph until some changes started last fall.
The speed limit on the Rt. 460 by-pass in Bluefield, W. Va. remains at 55.
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