MASSENA — Town of Massena officials are planning to petition the state Department of Transportation to consider lowering the speed limit on a stretch of the North Racquette River Road because of residents’ concerns about safety.
Several residents attended the Massena Town Council’s August meeting to share their concerns about the safety of individuals in that area because of the current 55 miles per hour speed limit. The area, about three miles outside the village limits, is residential and has a sharp curve, with some vehicles not able to negotiate the curve because they are traveling at high speeds.
Town Councilman Samuel D. Carbone Jr. filmed his travel along the North Racquette River Road, including the area of concern, and that video can be viewed at http://wdt.me/QmV5VT.
Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said the Council plans to write a letter of support for the residents to the Department of Transportation, requesting a review of the speed limit in that area.
“They’ll do their due diligence,” he said.
The Council may also ask St. Lawrence County officials to write a similar letter of support.
According to state police records, they have investigated 31 accidents on that road since 2014, five in 2019, eight in 2018, nine in 2017, three in 2016 and six in 2015. Of those, six have been personal injury accidents.
While state police haven’t investigated any accidents since 2015, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office has ticketed drivers on that stretch of road, Sheriff Kevin Wells said.
Department of Transportation records show that the department evaluated portions of the road around 1990-91, 1996, 2013 and 2015, and a 45 mile per hour speed limit was approved in 1991 for a 1.4-mile section west of and up to New York 37C. All other requests have been denied.
The Department of Transportation’s evaluation of speed limit requests is based on information in an 81-page traffic Safety and Mobility Instruction.
“The majority of cases boil down to the results of our laser studies to determine the 85th percentile speed and a review of the crash history. The basic premise is that the majority of motorists will travel at a speed that they feel comfortable at and which is reasonable and prudent for the given conditions along the highway segment,” DOT Public Information Officer Michael Flick said.
Mr. Flick said factors like road geometry, roadside development and traffic volumes will affect a driver’s decision to travel at certain speeds.
“Studies have shown that absent constant enforcement, most motorists will continue to travel at the speed they feel comfortable driving for the conditions, regardless of signed speed limits, while some motorists will choose to comply with the posted regulation.
This creates a larger speed differential between motorists and has been shown to be a cause of more crashes,” Mr. Flick said.
He said that if the department’s review of crash data shows a history of speed-related accidents, reducing the speed limit to the 67th percentile speed is permissible.
“Many requestors of speed limit reductions think that a speed limit is needed because ‘Everyone is driving too fast.’ If the majority of motorists are traveling at speeds which are at or above the existing speed limit, that is the primary reason why a reduced speed limit is denied,” he said.