State agrees slower is safer, trims Rte. 203 speeds

KINDERHOOK–The state has reduced the speed limit on Route 203 from 55 mph to 50 mph along the route from the Village of Valatie to the Village of Chatham. After the road crosses the town line from Kinderhook to Chatham, the speed is now down to 40 mph.

The Town of Kinderhook received a letter for the state Department of Transportation (NYDOT) right before the November 7 board meeting. The Village of Chatham Board of Trustees also received the letter and discussed it at their meeting November 8.

“I’m so glad that that happened,” said Chatham Village Mayor Tom Curran at the Thursday night meeting.

The letter, dated October 31, says, “Upon consideration of the Towns of Ghent, Chatham and Kinderhook, Village of Chatham and public support for a lower speed limit, and consideration of the results of the study, NYSDOT will reduce the speed limit on Route 203 from the Village of Chatham/Town of Ghent northerly line, to a point just south of the Town of Chatham/Town of Kinderhook line (bridge over Kline Kill) to 40 mph…. and from the Town of Kinderhook/Village of Valatie southerly line to 50 mph.” The state had plans to complete the changes by the end of December, according to the letter, but the letter did not indicate the change would happen so soon.

The Kinderhook Town Board created a committee last year to work with the state on lowering the speed limit and making the road safer. In December 2017, the Chatham Village Board passed a motion requesting the state reduce the speed limit on Route 203 in support of a petition started by resident Christy Collins. The petition, posted on the village Facebook page, asked for “a reduction of the speed limit on NY State Route 203 from approximately Maranatha Church at 1965 State Route 203 to the Chatham Village border. This short stretch of road…. is heavily used by pedestrians walking to Mac-Haydn Theatre, Edgewood Acres Mobile Home Park, and a shortcut to Chatham High School. Driving toward Chatham Village, the road goes downhill. Lowering the speed limit on this short stretch of New York state road would be appropriate and make a significant positive impact on safety.”

The village and the Town of Ghent sent letters to the state requesting the new, reduced speed limit on the route, which was repaved by the state last spring.

Last January representatives from the state DOT met in Kinderhook with a roomful of residents from the area to discuss the condition of the road and the speed limit. In December 2017 a child was killed in a car accident on Route 203 in the Town of Kinderhook.

At that meeting in January of 2018, DOT’s Regional Traffic Engineer Adam Levine said the state would look at the speed limit on the road and said his agency planned to put in rumble strips during the paving process.

Until last week the speed limit from just outside the Village of Valatie to the Village of Chatham had been 55 mph.

The letter about the speed limit change is addressed to the Village Clerk in Chatham, Ghent Supervisor Michael Benvenuto, Chatham Supervisor Maria Lull, Kinderhook Supervisor Pat Grattan and Columbia County Traffic Safety Board Executive Secretary Dave Chapman. The the route goes through all three towns and the village.

In a related matter Kinderhook Town Councilwoman Patsy Leader announced at last week’s Town Board meeting that the state does not have plans to reduce the speed limit on state Route 9 in the Town of Kinderhook. Ms. Leader shared a letter from the DOT addressed to the office of state Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd) at last Wednesday’s meeting that said, “An evaluation of accident history in conjunction with a re-evaluation of the 50 mph speed limit on Route 9 in Kinderhook has shown that the 50 mph speed limit zone remains appropriate for this segment of Route 9.”

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email


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