It's not often I can honestly ever say these words: I just couldn't wait to get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
But ever since the Turnpike Commission decided to raise the speed limit to 70 on a stretch from Chester County west to the Blue Mountain Tunnel in June, I'd wanted to see what traffic was like and whether anything had changed.
It wasn't just because I wanted to go faster. No, seriously.
Driving it at the end of 2014 gave me the opportunity to see how traffic was flowing at about the halfway point of the agency's study of raised speed limits.
The background: In a 2013 transportation funding deal, Gov. Corbett and the legislature authorized studying the 70-m.p.h. speed limit on the turnpike and interstate highways. The Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation both announced test areas over the summer: the 100 miles of the turnpike, plus a stretch of I-80 from Lock Haven to DuBois and a piece of I-380 in the Poconos.
Carl DeFebo, a spokesman for the Turnpike Commission, said the raised speed limits were still being studied in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University and PennDot.
"The whole plan: Let's live through a winter here and track some data and see what happens then," DeFebo said.
Erin Waters-Trasatt, a PennDot spokeswoman, concurred.
So, sometime this summer, the agencies may have a grand announcement. Drivers like myself, in the 38th state to raise speed limits to 70 or higher, can only hope.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation said speed limits there are set by the Legislature, so that agency has had no discussions in this arena.
How it looks so far: I managed to make my trip on the turnpike before getting answers from DeFebo, and my first impression on the Monday before Christmas? Everything seems about the same as before.
I'm what you might call a motivated driver. I spend more of my time passing people - and too much of the rest cursing people who linger two, three, four miles in the left lane without passing, but that's a whole other column - than getting passed, although I make sure that is happening, too.
On this trip, I kept my cruise control set somewhat north of legal but within a decade of the speed limit, and found that my rate of passing-to-being-passed was about the same as ever.
I talked to DeFebo the next day. He told me the bit of data the Turnpike Commission had, and his observations as a frequent turnpike traveler, jibed with my experience.
One big argument safety groups make for keeping speed limits lower has been that drivers will adjust their speed accordingly. DeFebo says that does not appear to be the case.
"There has not been a great change in the average speed," DeFebo said. The new speed limit is about the 85th percentile right now, meaning only about 15 percent of us are miscreants flouting the law.
Getting to here: The higher speed limit came in conjunction with the rebuilding of the turnpike, DeFebo said. It has been widened from four to six lanes and reconstructed in many areas of the higher speed limits. More than 100 miles have been rebuilt.
That's a pretty sizable reconstruction for the 360-mile-long east-west turnpike - the commission also oversees four expansion routes in the Pittsburgh area, and the Northeast Extension from north of Philadelphia to Scranton.
The original Pennsylvania Turnpike was conceived in the late 1930s, and it was designed so cars of the day could handle its curves at 70 m.p.h., according to the Turnpike Commission website.
When all is said and done, Pennsylvania will be more in line with much of the United States. And the turnpike will also be a more consistent place to drive, DeFebo said.
Wrapping up: Standard speeds. Speeds more in line with other states. Speeds more in line with the way the highway was designed to be used. And limits closer to what most motorists are currently heeding.
Personally, I'm hoping this could be the start of a trend, where the chance of a speeding ticket becomes reduced - or even eliminated.
And, bonus: For someone traveling the entire turnpike from New Jersey to Ohio, the roughly 350 miles of highway that could potentially be raised to 70 m.p.h. would take only five hours to cover, instead of the current five hours and 20 minutes or so.
That's 20 more minutes to spend at your destination.