Bethlehem town officials have reduced the speed limit of a unique road amid concerns of pedestrian safety.
Highway Superintendent Brent Meredith recommended in July the speed limit on Hudson Avenue be reduced from 35 mph to 30. The road is different in that it is the only town road with a speed limit of 35 mph. Other roads with similar speed limits are owned by the state.
“Were the road to be built today, it would never have been built with a speed limit that high,” said Supervisor John Clarkson.
A public hearing was held on Wednesday, Aug. 13, with just one person speaking against the proposal. The North Street resident said he was against the plan because he did not believe the highway superintendent was specific enough on why the speed needed to be changed. He asked if speeding was common or if there were a large number of accidents.
Clarkson said although the turnout for the public meeting was low, residents who lived on Hudson Avenue have reached out to the town over the years with concerns about the speed.
“We did have a report from police,” said Clarkson. “We didn’t have a huge number (of accidents), but we had enough that there was some concern.”
The supervisor said since the speed limit change was proposed, three people had contacted the town. Two residents were for the change, and the third was the North Street resident who spoke against the plan.
Meredith had previously said the speed limit change was proposed for consistency reasons. The section runs from Delaware Avenue to the intersection of Adams and North streets, and town officials could not find the reason for why the road’s speed limit was different than others in town.
In a letter to the Town Board, Meredith also said he was concerned about pedestrian safety.
Hudson Avenue runs parallel to the Helderburg-Hudson Rail Trail, with several access points to the trail along that road. The higher speeds can cause issues for those walking or biking the path.
Clarskon said more emphasis was being placed on traffic and pedestrian safety in town because it is a major concern of residents. He also said town officials would like to discourage drivers from using the road as a shortcut to bypass the Four Corners and reach Kenwood Avenue faster.
In order to change the speed limit, the town board needed to vote to change a local law that gives exception to the speed on Hudson Avenue.
Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn was absent from the meeting, but all other board members were in agreement.
“I think it’s important we set a townwide nature, if you will, for our travel,” said Councilwoman Joann Dawson. “Although, it’s inconvenient because (Hudson Avenue) is a great short cut. Let’s face it; it is. But I think we should be consistent and consider our pedestrians, as well as vehicular safety.”
Councilwoman Julie Sasso said the speed limit was an inconsistency and didn’t see the harm in it being reduced.
“To me it seems like a no-brainer,” she said.