New York bill would let towns set speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/14/2012

More towns throughout New York state could soon have new authority to set speed limits within their own jurisdictions.

New York law now requires most towns to petition the state Department of Transportation to be allowed to set local speed limits. Villages, cities and towns with populations of at least 50,000 are exempt from the requirement.

The Senate voted to advance a bill to the Assembly that would allow towns to determine speeds on “local roads.” Affected roads must be posted below 55 mph.

Sponsored by Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, the bill would require proposed speed changes to be certified by a “licensed professional engineer specializing in traffic operations.”

Little said the existing process to grant localities authority to set their own speeds is long and arduous. To make matters worse, the result is often a denial.

“More than 850 towns in New York are required to jump through a hoop that villages, cities and some very large towns aren’t required to,” Little said in a statement. “A change in law would provide relief from a mandate that costs them time and money unnecessarily.”

The bill – S547 – is awaiting consideration in the Assembly Transportation Committee. A companion bill – A3481 – is in the same committee.

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