PLATTSBURGH — The New York State Senate has approved legislation that will give local towns power to set their own speed limits on their own roads.
Cities, villages, suburban class towns and towns with populations greater than 50,000 residents already have the ability to do so.
The new legislation, if it becomes law, would help smaller towns, like those in the North Country.
“This simply would bring most towns into alignment with what state law allows for all others municipalities,” said Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury), who sponsored the measure.
“It’s a requirement that isn’t necessary. Eliminating it would create some flexibility on the local level.”
According to Little, the proposed law would require town councils wanting to lower speed limits do so in accordance with all other existing standards, including certification by a licensed professional engineer specializing in traffic operations.
Towns could still opt, if preferred, to petition the New York State Department of Transportation for oversight and approval of speed-limit changes.
For many years, that was the only avenue to make a change — the town council would ask the state, DOT would study the matter, and more often than not, approval would not follow.
So the bill is seen as goods news for area towns.
“The town board will need to, in consultation with our highway superintendent (Jim Woods), discuss what we feel would be the best practice for our municipality,” Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman said, adding that he respects the highway super’s opinion.
“Empowering the local level can certainly have its advantages. Though I do want to see the full details to best understand what financial impacts it may have.
Chazy Town Supervisor Mark Henry said he was glad to see the senator sponsor the bill, which he thinks would make towns safer.
“We continue to believe that local leaders, working within their communities, can produce the best results when it comes to public-safety issues such as these,” Henry said.
“Larger cities and towns have had the ability to do this for quite some time. This effort will provide smaller towns with the flexibility to modify speed limits, should they wish to, without having to jump through the many administrative hoops that are now required.”
“I appreciate Senator Little’s work on this issue and think it can save towns both time and money in those circumstances when they wish to modify certain speed limits.”
An accompanying bill has yet to be introduced in the Assembly.
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