Senate OKs Town Speed Limit Mandate Relief Legislation

Betty Little

February 07, 2012

The State Senate today approved legislation that would authorize towns to set speed limits within their own jurisdictions.  Current law requires most towns to petition the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to do so but exempt villages, cities and about 80 towns with large populations.

Sponsored by Senator Betty, the legislation is supported by the Association of Towns of the State of New York and was discussed but not included in a mandate relief package approved last June.

“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,” said Little.  “A change in law would provide relief from a mandate that costs them time and money unnecessarily.”

Specifically, the bill (S.547) would amend section 1622 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to authorize towns to establish maximum speed limits on all town highways that are functionally classified as "local roads," within limits and standards set forth in the bill.  Speed limits would be less than the 55 miles per hour statutory maximum speed  limit.

Towns electing to set maximum speed limits would need to do so in accordance with engineering specifications and other factors applicable to speed limits.  Speed limit changes would require certification by a licensed professional engineer specializing in traffic operations.

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

A companion bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Addie Russell.