Officials advocate for lower speed limits

B y Dan King
Currently, in Whitehall any road that does not have a marked speed limit maintains the state limit of 55 miles per hour, but that could be changing soon.
With a growing population and an increase in what town board members referred to as “slow moving vehicles,” the Town of Whitehall is hoping to lobby the county and eventually the state into lowering the speed limits on some roads.
Whitehall Highway Superintendent Louie Pratt recently spoke with Scott Tracy, the public works manager for Washington County and is optimistic that the county will approve the reduced speed limits.
“I met with Scott Tracy from the county and hopefully we’ll have a resolution by next month.” Pratt said.
Although optimistic, Pratt’s acknowledged that this will not be a quick process for the town, as it will have to submit resolutions to both the state and county. The resolutions will have to list roads that the town wishes to change the speed limit on and what the recommended speed would be.
The resolutions would then need to be approved by the county and state, before any new signs could go up.
“If we’re lucky, we’ll hear back from the state by this time next year.” Pratt added, in a half joking manner.
The roads which are receiving consideration for speed changes are ones that the town has seen increased population on, many of which have many dangerous blind spots.
“I think we have all seen incidents of people simply going to fast on these roads.” Town Board Member John Rozell said.
The following roads will go into the proposal, which will be drafted by Town Attorney Erika Sellar-Ryan and will suggest a reduction to 40 miles per hour, Hatch Hill Road; Beckwith Road; Buckley Road; Abair Road; Upper Turnpike Road; Winters Road; and County Routes 9, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 21.
Pratt said the town could put up yellow “suggested speed” signs on these roads without going through the county or state, but advised board members to “not waste time with that.”
The board will focus the proposal around the idea of protecting Whitehall’s citizens, because often times it can be hard to sway the state to approve speed limit changes. However, if the state sees a considerable interest in protecting the citizens, board members believe they could sway the state in favor of the changes.
“The state does not like to change speed limits very often, because the constitution protects interstate commerce and these reductions could impact truck drivers.” Sellar-Ryan said, “But, if we can convince them that this is will better protect our residents, we may have some luck.”

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