Too high? Too low? Just right? Public forum to discuss speed limits on Route 66 scheduled for Jan. 30
NORTHAMPTON — Have speed limits on Route 66 outlived their usefulness or are they necessary deterrents against vehicular mayhem?
That topic will be up for debate at a public forum scheduled for Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at R.K. Finn Ryan Road School.
The forum was arranged by City Councilor Marianne LaBarge, according to a letter she sent Councilor Eugene Tacy, chairman of the city’s Transportation and Parking Commission.
In that letter, LaBarge said the question of an appropriate speed limit on that portion of road has been of great concern to her Ward 6 constituents since a Daily Hampshire Gazette article Dec. 10 raised the issue.
“The article has led to confusion that there is potential to change the speed limits,” LaBarge wrote. “We feel that this open forum will give the residents the opportunity to speak in favor of keeping the speed limits as they are or increasing them.”
Speed limits range from 25 to 35 mph along a six-mile stretch of the road from Smith College to the Westhampton line. Those limits were established in 1982, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Tacy read the letter into the record at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Transportation and Parking Commission and said he plans on attending to hear opinions on the matter. He said there are no current plans or proposals to alter the speed limits on Route 66.
Tacy said the commission doesn’t have authority to change speed limits. That decision would be made by MassDOT.
Where the commission would have a role, according to Public Works Director Ned Huntley, would be to commission a speed study of the area if one were requested.
If such a request were granted, a week’s worth of data would be collected and analyzed and an optimal speed limit would be determined. That data would be sent to MassDOT, which would approve or deny the changes, a process that takes about nine months, according to Huntley.
The forum has a snow date of Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at Ryan Road School.
Staff writer Margot Cleary contributed to this report.