The Missouri Department of Transportation responded last week to a request made earlier this year by the City of Houston to have the speed limit on U.S. 63 reduced all the way to the southern city limits.

As signs on the roadway now indicate, the speed limit is 50 miles per hour instead of 65 on a stretch of the highway from about the location of Miller’s Grill to the city limits adjacent to the USDA office and Steve’s Tire.

“With the businesses opening at the McCloud Center along with several that were already there, we asked MoDOT to do a study of the section of 63 near the south entrance to the city,” Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell said. “There was some concern about increased traffic and turning traffic, and also there’s a hill crest near there that brought up concerns. We asked MoDOT to consider putting in a turn lane, but we knew the cost of doing that might be prohibitive and a speed limit change would be the best thing at this time.”

McNiell said the issue was raised more due to the lack of knowledge of nonresidents than the driving habits of locals.

“Local people were probably already aware of the situations, and slowing down as a general rule,” he said. “But people passing through who don’t know the layout of Houston is where the problem was. I think the new speed limit signs will help, because people may not obey them, but they see them.”

Drivers passing through the section can expect to see some police activity, McNiell said, but nothing drastic.

“We’re not going to go out there and just write a bunch of tickets,” he said. “We will go down there and work it some, and if we see someone speeding, we might just issue a warning, unless it’s something flagrant. But if they’re going over the old speed limit, they’ll probably get a ticket, because then we’re looking at 15 miles per hour plus.

“But it’s not our goal to make that a speed trap. We just thought this was a good idea for the safety or our public, and I think the reduced speed limit will contribute to the safety factor we had in mind.”

MoDOT has plans to construct additional lanes on U.S. 63 through central Houston in 2015. McNiell said the city will likely ask the agency to take a look at a similar speed limit reduction on 63 in the north end of town.

“Just like on the south end, with all the businesses and the fairgrounds to the north, we’d like to see people slowing down in that area of the city limits and reducing the possibility of speed being a contributing factor to an accident,” McNiell said.

McNiell said the idea is being explored of dropping the speed limit below 50 on 63 in the south end of town near Sonic and Pizza Hut.

“We’re not sure, but we’re asking them to look at it to maybe make it safer,” he said. “There are signs with lower speeds already just north of that area, we’re just thinking of moving them down a bit.”

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