Town to lower Old Quarry Road speed limit

Study finds 45 mph is optimal for South Bethlehem roadway

Motorists in South Bethlehem will soon notice a change on Old Quarry Road in the near future, as the Bethlehem Town Board has authorized the road's speed limit to be lowered from 55 to 45 mph.

The unanimous decision on Wednesday, July 28, was preceded by a presentation by Mark Sargent of Creighton Manning Engineering, which conducted a study on the roadway at the request of the board. The engineers found what residents already knew: The narrow, winding roadway demands a lower speed for safe negotiation.

As it is, 15 of the road's 17 curves are preceded by advisory signs warning motorists to slow down to a speed below 55. The engineering firm's research showed most motorists are slowing down to speeds around 45 mph on these curves, which constitute about half of the road's length. The road is currently not posted, making the maximum legal speed 55 mph.

Data from a recorder that measures speeds showed an average speed of 53 mph, though. Sargent said this is likely because it was located just north of the intersection with Rupert Road, in a straightaway.

That happened to be installed in one of the higher speed segments in the entire area, he said.

The town turned to Creighton Manning after a public hearing in April saw many residents saying the limit should be dropped even lower than 45. The town's own research has found records of 14 crashes in the past three years on the road, seven of which occurred in the past year. Four of those involved deer in the road.

When asked about lowering the speed limit even further, Sargent gave the same advice as town staff.

"People won't obey it," he said. "People will drive the road at what they think is a safe speed."

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