Speed reduction plan advances

Cars travel through Canton down County Route 27 in August. Residents have petitioned the Canton Town Council for a speed limit reduction from 45 to 35 mph between the village limit and the Sykes Road intersection. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — A community request to reduce the speed limit on a portion of County Route 27 in Canton is moving forward, at least procedurally.

The Town Council during its regular meeting Thursday night unanimously passed a resolution in support of a speed limit reduction.

With a letter of support from the joint town and village Complete Streets Committee, Daniel L. Dominie presented a petition signed by at least 30 people, mostly residents along the stretch of concern, to the town in August.

Mr. Dominie, a County Route 27 resident, estimated the speed limit has remained 45 mph for some 50 years from the village limit near the Canton Fire Department northward. Called Riverside Drive in the village, the stretch parallels the Grasse River and is roughly a mile long, ending at Pelkey’s Corner. At the corner, County Route 27 continues toward Lisbon and is intersected by Sykes Road and County Route 32, also called County Farm Road.

In the years since the speed limit was set at 45 mph, Mr. Dominie said, the area has seen residential growth and increases in pedestrian, cyclist and Amish use. He cited the Riverside Drive entrance to the Remington Trail, which is used by both SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University, as an additional driver of increased recreational use.

A reduction to 35 mph has been the most common suggestion among concerned residents, Mr. Dominie said.

In a separate letter submitted to the town last week, County Route 27 residents David Witherhead and Laurie Poor expressed similar concerns. They suggested a request be made to mark the entire stretch with double solid lines to deter motorists from passing other vehicles.

“Being realistic, we haven’t had a lot of success in these types of requests,” Councilor James T. Smith said of speed reductions. He said an added request for the county to explore the possibility of lengthening the no-passing zone with double solid lines is “a really good back up.”

Councilor Robert J. Washo said the issue warrants a “multi-pronged approach,” as lowering the speed limit isn’t enough without adequate enforcement. Mr. Washo suggested state police in Canton and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office be asked to station patrols in the area more regularly, an idea Mr. Witherhead and Ms. Poor shared.

A County Route 27 resident nearly all her life, Lyne Soulia spoke during the Thursday meeting’s public comment period. She said pedestrian and cyclist safety has become increasingly concerning with cattle trailers, feed trucks and other industrial-size vehicles using the route at high speeds.

“It’s gotten terrible,” she said, adding that a speed limit reduction and double sold lines will likely not change some drivers’ decisions. “But we need to make a conscious effort to show that we are trying something anyway.”

Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley said the matter would be forwarded to the St. Lawrence County Department of Highways. Requests would then be brought to the state for consideration.

The town meets next at 6 p.m. Oct. 14, with a public hearing on the 2022 tax cap at 5:45 p.m. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the town and village are reverting to fully remote meetings using Zoom Technologies. The temporary move, allowed through Jan. 15, is permitted under a new state law signed by Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul earlier this month. Agendas and virtual meeting links are posted to cantonny.gov.

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