HUDSON — Pedestrian safety became a front-and-center issue for the Hudson Common Council on Tuesday as it considered a change in the speed limit.
At its informal meeting Tuesday, residents expressed concern about speeding on Union Street and the traffic light at Third and Warren streets while the council weighed a local law reducing the speed limit to 25 mph on Glenwood Boulevard and Union Street from their current 30 mph limit, according to the local law draft.
Glenwood Boulevard was chosen due to its proximity to Oakdale Park and its use as a shortcut to avoid congestion getting into the city, according to the local law. Union Street was designated due to its “narrow residential character and the frequency of vehicles speeding on the street and endangering pedestrians,” according to the draft.
“Establishing linear speed limits on certain streets will reduce the potential for traffic accidents and pedestrian injuries and will improve the character of the neighborhoods along said streets,” according to the law.
The revised law comes after the Common Council passed a resolution Dec. 15, 2020, authorizing and encouraging Mayor Kamal Johnson to ask Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, to sponsor legislation to reduce the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. But in June, the council learned that it couldn’t change the limit citywide, but it could instead request a speed limit change on a case-by-case basis, by road, with justification. The city has to send its justification to the state Department of Transportation for approval.
“It’s a terrible, terrible uphill battle that comes with the state,” 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante said. “The governor signing off on that, I had many state people involved, it wasn’t a practical solution.”
Merante said these two streets could be just the beginning.
“I think starting off now with these two streets, I think this is going to set a template, I think that’s the direction we should go and then as it gets easier, we get more educated on how to make this happen,” Merante said.
Besides the proposed speed decrease, resident Tamar Adler said residents of Union Street had petitioned the city to install speed humps on the street. City Public Works Superintendent Rob Perry gave a presentation on speed humps, including information that the speed humps could actually be more dangerous to motorists.
“The reality is, a lot of the concerns based on the professionals that I speak with, really come back to a liability. And what happens if somebody is traveling the legal speed limit of 25 miles an hour, or 30 miles an hour, whatever the legal speed limit is, and they hit these things, then because the city put them there, the city is liable for any damages or injuries that come from that?” Perry said.
Speed humps are used for limits up to 30 mph for local roads to reduce speed 5-10 mph, according to Perry’s presentation. The city has also received requests for similar actions in Prison Alley and Parkwood Boulevard, he said.
Perry told Adler that input from emergency responders such as police, fire and ambulances, should give input on having speed humps on Union Street as a next step.
A constituent of 2nd Ward Alderwoman and Majority Leader Tiffany Garriga expressed concern about pedestrian safety at the intersection of Warren and Third streets, saying that the light is difficult to see from the sidewalk. The resident had asked for a pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection.
Merante said the city is somewhat limited by its technology.
“Our stoplights are really antiquated. And it would cause probably $100,000 to integrate ‘stop for crosswalk’ at those lights right now. So it really becomes a serious funding issue. I agree that it’s needed,” Merante said.
Garriga said the council should explore fundraising for the potential project.
“I think we should and I think that’s the right thing to do, especially since the city has to be ADA compliant. We need to make sure everyone is being accounted for and accommodated,” she said.
But Third Street is a truck route, which could place additional regulations on what is permitted on the road, including the types of lights and signs. Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore said.
Garriga said the speed limit legislation could help mitigate the issue by helping slow the flow of traffic.
“We’re going to see what we can do and what we can’t do,” she said.