The milling and paving of Washington Avenue, according to village residents and officials was long overdue, but the paving job has exacerbated an existing condition that Saugerties residents are hoping the village board can stop: speeding. Motorists have long made the avenue, which leads from Main Street to the high school, the Cantine field complex and the HITS showgrounds their race track.
With the new paving making the roadway smoother, motorists are now really stepping on the gas. The village board is working on a multi-pronged approach to slow them down. “We need to do everything we can to slow it down,” trustee Vincent Buono said at the village board’s August 7 meeting.
With school set to begin on September 6, the village government wants to do more to “slow it down” in order to keep the hundreds of school kids who use the road to get to the high school/middle school campus safe.
Mayor William Murphy said he will talk to police chief Joseph Sinagra about increased police patrols.
Creating a school safety zone near the high school is under consideration. Even though the state allows towns, cities and villages go create school safety zones that reduce the speed to 15 m.p.h. in those zones, the village and town governments have never done that at the high school. The village and town governing bodies need to pass a resolution to create the school zone, since the high school is on the border of both the town and village.
Village officials said they would contact the town to get them on board with the move.
The village also has the power, without the approval from the state Department of Transportation, to lower the speed limit from 30 to 25 m.p.h. on the upper section of Washington Avenue from Main to Montgomery. It hopes to do so after a public hearing on the proposal at the village trustees’ meeting on August 21 meeting at 5 p.m.
Trustees will also ask the DOT for approval to reduce the speed limit from 30 to 25 m.p.h. on the section of Washington Avenue from Main Street to the start of the new school zone at Robinson Street. That section needs DOT approval, because it is a major thoroughfare.
Ulster County officials have told the village that a center line creates the illusion that the road is narrower than it really is, and drivers will just naturally slow down.
Striping the road with crosswalks has already been done.
A center line will come next. “It’s worth it for us to look into getting this done,” Murphy said.
Murphy also said the village’s Department of Public Works will paint “Slow” signs on several sections of Washington Avenue.
“We can do all of this,” Vincent Buono reminded his colleagues, “but we need to enforce it.”