Some St. Lawence County state reps want towns to control own speed limits, Senate passes bill
Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 9:17 am

The state Senator representing eastern St. Lawrence County and the Assemblywoman whose district includes Potsdam, Canton and towns along the Seaway are both supporting a bill allowing towns to set their own speed limits.

A bill was approved in the state Senate that would authorize towns in St. Lawrence County and around the state to set speed limits within their own jurisdictions.

“This is a mandate relief measure,” said Sen. Betty Little (Queensbury). “Towns in New York are required to jump through a hoop that villages, cities and some very large towns don’t have to, costing them time and money. This would create a uniform policy treating all municipalities the same.”

Sen. Little represents the Senate’s 45th District, which includes the St. Lawrence County towns of Parishville, Lawrence, Clare, Colton, Hopkinton and Piercefield, plus Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Warren and Washington counties.

Assemblywoman Addie Russell sponsors a companion bill. She represents the Assembly’s “River District,” which includes all St. Lawrence County towns along the St. Lawrence River (Massena, Ogdensburg, Louisville, Waddington, Lisbon, Oswegatchie, Morristown, and Hammond) plus the towns of Canton, Potsdam, Rossie, Macomb, and DePeyster, and northern Jefferson County not including Watertown.

Current law requires most towns to petition the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to do so but exempts villages, cities and about 80 towns with large populations.

The bill would amend state vehicle and traffic law to authorize towns to set maximum speed limits on all town highways that are classified as "local roads," within limits and standards set forth in the bill.

Towns that elect to set maximum speed limits would need to do so in accordance with engineering specifications and other factors. Speed limit changes would require certification by an engineer specializing in traffic operations.

The legislation would retain the DOT’s jurisdiction to set speed limits on town roads at the request of town boards not wanting to set speed limits.