Several residents who live on or near Route 212 in Saugerties told Town Board members last week that 55 miles an hour is too fast for that road. They described accidents resulting from the sharp curves and poor visibility, as well as the daily trauma of trying to get out of their driveways, given the poor sight distance on sections of the road.
“Route 212 is an obsolete old road and the speed limit is apparently 55 miles an hour,” said Harry Vickery. “I move farm machinery up and down 212. I’m a farmer, lived here some 70-some years. My farm machinery is 12 or 14 feet wide and we can only go 12 or 15 miles an hour when we move it. It’s getting really dangerous out there.” A lot of people walk on 212, Vickery said, and children ride bicycles. Fifty-five miles [an hour] is too fast.
“If you go 45 miles per hour, you’ll have ten cars behind you. They’ll pass on the left, on the right, it doesn’t make any difference — double yellow lines, it doesn’t make any difference. We have to do something because somebody is going to get hurt.”
“I am at the bus stop with my grandchildren four times a day, and I can’t tell you how many times cars have passed the school bus because they are going too fast to stop,” said Peggy Krom. “One day a man couldn’t stop; he went around a school bus on the side where my grandchildren were getting off. If it hadn’t been for the bus driver seeing in the rear-view mirror that this car was passing, it could have been ugly.”
The turn on to 212 from Glasco Turnpike is also dangerous for pedestrians. “You think it’s okay, no one is coming, then all of a sudden a car’s right there,” explained Krom.
Lou Klepner presented a petition to the Town Board with 62 names regarding the speed limit on Route 212. He thanked the board for placing a motion on the agenda to have the speed reduced. One of the residents who has lived on Route 212 for 50 years was unable to make the meeting, but sent Klepner comments. She lives near an S-curve and finds it difficult to get her mail, especially since breaking her hip. “During this time I have witnessed many car and truck crashes. I have witnessed some horrible accidents, including one where a Medevac helicopter landed on my front lawn.” Klepner said he hopes the board’s motion passes, the matter moves on to the Department of Transportation (DOT) “and the ball will be in their court.”
Citing a comment by another neighbor, Klepner said the speed limit changes throughout Route 212, with a change from 40 in Centerville to 55, then 45 near Glasco Turnpike and then back up to 55. The inconsistency of the speed limit coupled with the sharp turns isn’t providing a coherent narrative to drivers through this area,” he said. “It strikes a lot of residents that the speed limit should just be 45 throughout this whole section. We should shoot for 40, but we’d be happy with 45.”
The cars speeding by on this section of Route 212 is not new, said resident Mark Kanter. He has, on occasion, seen cars speeding by at as much as 80 miles per hour, based on their speed relative to his. Kanter noted that there are a number of businesses, as well as short residential streets, “so people are coming in and out for a number of different reasons,” he said. The day after he witnessed an especially fast speeder, “a neighbor came with a petition to our door, and I was so happy to see that somebody was taking this on.”
Robin Blyer, who lives on Route 212 in an area just above where the speed limit increases, said there have been several accidents right in front of her driveway. One morning, when she went out to get her mail, she found broken glass and what appeared to have been the contents of a car scattered across her driveway. She wondered whether the accident had been reported because no one from the Town came out to clean it up or to ask if she had witnessed it. The change in speed limit sometimes catches truck drivers by surprise, they are forced to downshift quickly “and that’s a big noise issue,” she said.
Board votes to accept petition
The Town Board voted later in the meeting to approve the petition residents had offered calling for a reduction in the speed limit on sections of Route 212 that are now set at 55 mph.
“We the undersigned respectfully submit a request to the NYS DOT for a speed reduction on the segments of 212 in Saugerties that are currently posted at 55 miles per hour. We believe that the current posted speed limit creates unsafe conditions pulling onto and off of 212 , is too fast for the many curves on these segments and generates noise pollution from the constant ‘Jack breaking’ that trucks utilize on these curves.”
Supervisor Fred Costello said the board would forward a request to the DOT, which would then conduct a study and determine whether the change in speed limit is appropriate. “We would certainly advocate on behalf of the residents for the change in the speed limit, and I think we all on the board have been there frequently enough to know there are some concerns and this could be helpful in improving the quality and safety along that route,” said Costello.
Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton said people should be aware that “the DOT does not work very quickly. We’ve been waiting for two years for the reduction of the speed limit on a Town road and no response yet from DOT. You have to be patient; I know Covid may have played a part, but to expect a response within six months, it’s just not happening.”
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution.
The board also voted, in a separate resolution, to appoint Klepner to the town’s Transportation Advisory Council.