Salamanca council approves speed limit reductions for side streets

As soon as the new ordinance is published, the speed limit in Salamanca will be reduced from 30 to 25 mph on most side streets, like it is on Newton Street now, and 20 mph in school zones during certain hours. Most main roads would remain at 30.

SALAMANCA — Most Salamanca streets not marked as a state or county highway will see a speed limit reduction to 25 mph in the coming weeks after action by the Common Council.

The council voted June 26 in a 3-1 decision to pass an ordinance reducing the speed limit on non-main streets to 25 mph after a recommendation by the Police Commission.

Before approval, a public hearing was held, attended by several city residents who voiced concern about the proposed change and suggested other options.

“Why can’t we make people accountable for 30 mph? We’ve got laws on the book that they’re not obeying now,” asked one resident near Highland Avenue. “What is 25 mph going to do versus the 30?”

Mayor Michael Smith said the numbers provided by the police department from New York state show that people are much more likely to survive if hit by a car going that 5 miles per hour slower.

“I don’t want you to run over a kid at any speed, but if you’re going to run over one, I’d rather it be at 25 than 30,” the mayor said.

A resident of Newton Street, which is already a 25 mph zone, said many people who drive there do follow the speed limit. She said although some people don’t follow it, there will always be some who don’t follow the signs regardless of what it says.

“There’s this idea that you’re allowed to drive 5 miles over the speed limit anywhere you go, so going to 25 will actually bring us down to 30,” she added.

Council member Janet Koch, D-Ward 5, said instead of changing the speed limit, speeders need to be held more accountable for not following 30 mph.

“How can we fix accountability as opposed to changing something that may not be an issue?” she said. “If the police officer sees them speeding, ticket them and give them a speeding ticket.”

Another resident near Highland Avenue suggested rather than change the speed limit signs, the city should install more safety signs to help slow people down.

“I think that more signs for ‘slow’ and ‘children at play’ need to be put up on some of these corners all through Salamanca,” she said.

“I don’t think anybody disputes the safety,” said County Legislator Sue Labuhn, who lives on Broad Street, which will remain at 30. “I think what they’re asking, is how are we going to enforce the 25 when we’re having difficulty with the 30?”

Council member Tim Flanigan, R-Ward 2, said if the speed limit is reduced to 25, it would be worth it if it can help reduce accidents and save lives.

“If you reduce the speed limit, they still are probably going to go over it, but not as much,” he said.

All of the main thoroughfares in the city will remain at 30 mph, including Central Avenue, West State Street, East State Street between West State and Central, Center Street going north from Broad Street and Wildwood Avenue going east from the Clinton Street Bridge.

The ordinance also includes establishing school zones on those streets with a 20 speed limit around Prospect Elementary School, the Seneca Intermediate and high schools and the Seneca Arts and Learning Center during school hours.

Additionally, the council also voted to change Hoy Street into a one way street with traffic going north from Broad Street toward Hillview Homes, making one less place for traffic to pull onto Broad at a confusing intersection.

“I’m not sure we’re solving the problem there,” said council member John “Jack” Hill, D-Ward 1. “It was a one-way street before and it didn’t help then.”

The council discussed the issue with people walking up Hoy Street rather than on the sidewalk. The council said there is no crosswalk going across nearby Iroquois Drive to Hoy, which is also dangerous.

“I agree that it’s a dangerous intersection, but I also think it’s dangerous to send the traffic at people,” Hill said.