Drivers in the US state of Texas can now put the pedal to the metal on a stretch of state highway that opened Wednesday with a speed limit of 85 mph (137 kmh), faster than any other road in the nation, as long as they’re willing to pay for it.
"There is a lot of wide open space in Texas which makes sense with these higher posted speed limits,” said Chris Lippincott, spokesman for Cintra-Zachary, a private partnership that built the toll road, in an interview with ABC News.
“We are not building a race track through the middle of town, we just want to make sure people can get safely and reliably where they need to go," he said.
The 40-mile stretch of Texas Highway 130 opened after three years of construction work.
The road connects Austin and San Antonio, two of the largest metropolitan areas in Texas, and comes with a toll charge of $6.17 – roughly 15 cents per mile.
It is designed to alleviate congestion on Interstate 35, and provide a faster option for drivers who are willing to pay.
At the top legal speed, it would take just 28 minutes to drive the distance.
But the higher speed limit raises concern for safety advocates, who say up to 13,000 people are killed every year in speed-related accidents in the US.
“The public tends to think they can go 10-15 mph (16-24 kmh) over the speed limit and get away with it, and the reality is, they can,” said Jonathan Adkins, Communications Director for the Governors Highway Safety Association, a Washington-based non-profit organization that works to implement highway safety programs.
“People want to go fast, and traffic tends to flow above the speed limit, but when you get to high speeds, you’re less likely to survive an accident, and if you do survive, you’re going to have a serious injury,” he said.
The GHSA said it is wary that as Texas raises its highest speed limit, other states may follow suit.