Ortt, 2 other state legislators want local control for setting speed limits within school zones

Staff Reports Posted 25 October 2017 at 7:54 pm

Legislation proposed by State Sen. Rob Ortt and two other state legislators would give local government officials control on setting speed limits with school zones.

Ortt was joined Assemblyman Ray Walter (R-Amherst) and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (R-Niagara Falls) during a news conference on Tuesday by Starpont High School, where school leaders want the speed limit reduced from the current 45 miles per hour.

Kendall school and community leaders have also tried to have the state Department of Transportation reduce the speed limit by the high school from the current 50 miles per hour.

The DOT has declined to reduce the speed limits by the Kendall school. The state recommended that the Kendall Central School District utilize flashing beacons to help make Rt. 18/Roosevelt Highway outside the Jr./Sr. High School safer for students.

Ortt said local officials should have the power to reduce speed limits.

“We’ve reached a sort of critical mass on this issue and the mentality of ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ is simply not acceptable anymore,” Ortt said. “When we have local residents and officials all pointing to the same safety issues along a particular stretch in front of a school, there’s no reason local government shouldn’t be able to act.”

Ortt, Morinello and Walter have sponsored various pieces of state legislation to lower speed limits within their districts. The trio expressed frustration with the unnecessary length and difficulty of the current process. The new legislation would allow county governments to set speed limits within school zones on state roads.

“Returning local control of speed limits back to municipalities will allow for a better ‘reaction time’ to any issues that may arise in a specific community,” Morinello said. “These municipalities are run by residents who have first-hand knowledge of the problems or safety concerns surrounding their local roadways, and allowing them to determine the speed limits instead of the state will increase responsiveness to residents.”

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