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Why does the speed limit on the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway change to 50 mph as it passes the exit for Wilmington International Airport?

Brandy Bryant

The N.C. Department of Transportation takes into consideration several factors when setting speed limits. Roadway alignment, distance, average speed, crash history, and development are among a few things considered.

The speed limit changes located along the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway are caused by variations in ground levels throughout the highway. Ground levels before the Wilmington International Airport are at or above ground level, causing the speed limit to remain higher than areas below ground level.

“The design speed of that section of the highway is lower than that of the at-grade (ground-level) section east of there,” said Bob Hammond of the N.C. DOT.

Hammond said ground levels do not play a significant role in deciding speed limits throughout Wilmington, but due to narrow shoulders, curves and merging areas, the design speed of the parkway is 50 mph at the airport exit.

User-contributed question by:
Judy Hogsed

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6 Responses to “ Why does the speed limit on the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway change to 50 mph as it passes the exit for Wilmington International Airport?”

  1. On September 11, 2010 at 10:19 pm JC wrote:

    Bs it’s a speedtrap

  2. On September 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm beachlady wrote:

    I don’t know if JC is right or wrong, but that part of the road is not more dangerous or more well traveled than the rest of MLK. The speed limit should not drop. For the most part, setting a 35 mph zone in the middle of a section of 65 mph road in the middle of nowhere makes about as much sense as dropping the speed limit from before 23rd St until the downtown area. It is not observed by any type vehicle – including police and highway patrol.

  3. On September 15, 2010 at 3:38 am Bobby wrote:

    Right, because those of us who took the SAT learned that 35 is to 65, as 50 is to 55. Strange math, but I’m sure Beachlady make sense to someone.

  4. On September 15, 2010 at 10:43 am Bic wrote:

    So it’s due to the ground levels but it’s not. Great answer.
    It’s a speed trap.

  5. On September 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm beachlady wrote:

    Bobby, I had to interview a NCDOT District Engineer in another area regarding how speed limits are set. One of the interesting things he said was that drivers are accustomed to matching speed to road conditions. A driver’s perception of an appropriate speed is usually what controls the speed traveled, not the speed limit. At the eastern end of I-40, the speed limit drops extremely fast from 70 to 55, resulting in one of the most infamous speed traps on the east coast. The 23rd St/MLK intersection does not warrant a drop in speed. Just stand by the side of the road and watch the flow of traffic. You’ll understand.

  6. On September 26, 2011 at 1:43 am PT wrote:

    S P E E D T R A P