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Speed Limits in Houston/Galveston Area May Be Increased

Release Date: 11/4/2002
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

      Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Texas’ proposed revision to the Houston/Galveston clean air plan, allowing speed limits in the eight-county area to be increased. The 55 mph speed limit will be delayed until May 1, 2005. In the interim, speed limits will be increased to a level 5 mph below the speed limit in place prior to May 2002.  

      “New computer modeling indicates emission reductions from a 55 mph speed limit may not be as great as previously believed. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has committed to a full review of the data and we agree with them that this change may be made under the terms of an approved air plan for Houston/Galveston,” EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

      Lower speed limits help reduce pollution from cars and trucks. Ozone forms when strong sunlight and hot weather cause air pollutants like car exhaust to combine with oxides of nitrogen. Repeated exposure to ozone pollution may cause permanent damage to the lungs and triggers a variety of health problems including chest pains, coughing, nausea, throat irritation, and congestion. It also can worsen bronchitis, heart disease, emphysema, and asthma, and reduce lung capacity.

      The clean air plan is formally known as the State Implementation Plan or SIP. It details how the area will ensure it meets the national health-based air quality standard for ozone by 2007. The TCEQ proposed these revisions to the SIP in July 2002.

      The document signed today is available on the Internet at