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M'burgh Resident Pleads Town Board to Lower Speed Limit on Gridley Rd.

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 4/19/24 | 4/19/24

By David Avitabile

MIDDLEBURGH - Gridley Road resident Gus Wade has seen drivers speed on his road more than 60 years and he is tired of it. On the afternoon of Saturday, April 6, there was a serious two-vehicle head-on accident on the corner by his barn in which several people were injured.

The accident was ": just the tip of the iceberg," Mr. Wade told Middleburgh town board members Thursday evening. "There will be a fatality."

Armed with pictures and maps of the road, he asked the town board several times to lower the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph. Board members said they would begin the process of lowering the speed limit. 

Mr. Wade was countered by Highway Superintendent Steve Kowalski, who noted that the speed limit was just recently lowered, and a low speed limit will not help unless people willingly slow down.

Mr. Wade said that there are three blind spots on the road, which runs from Route 145 to Huntersland Road. Road residents Bonnie Snyder and Maurice Lawton also attended the meeting.

Despite Mr. Wade's pleas, Mr. Kowalski said he seriously doubted that a lower posted speed limit would make any difference.

"What makes you think an ignorant fool who decides to speed would follow that sign?" Mr. Kowalski asked Mr. Wade.

Mr. Wade noted that the road is 18 feet wide, but Mr. Kowalski countered that the road is actually wider at the curve than most roads in the town.

Mr. Wade provided pictures of the road and a topographical map to board members and the public.

There is a 50-foot drop off the side of the road at the curve where the accident took place, Mr. Wade said. "That curve and drop make a heck of a blind spot."

The section is posted for 40mph and there was a 20mph yellow sign for the curve, but someone must have taken it, officials said.

Mr. Wade continued to describe the road and its issues.

Mr. Kowalski noted, "I know what the road looks like Gus."

The yellow 20mph curve sign is just a warning, Mr. Kowalski said. Mr. Wade said two different speed signs across from each other were confusing.

Mr. Wade made a request to lower the speed limit on the road to 30mph last year and reinstated his request Thursday. Last year he was told that the town had to go to the state, do paperwork, and have a speed study done.

Schoharie County deputies following up the accident told him that the town could just lower the speed limit since it is a town road. They also viewed tapes of the road that Mr. Wade's cameras captured of the accident.

One car was going about 55mph.

"It's a pretty serious accident when they call the helicopter," noted Fred Risse, chairman of the planning board.

Mr. Kowalski reiterated that the state would have to do a speed study.

Supervisor John Youmans said the town would verify the process and proceed. The request may need to go to the county DPW to start a speed study. The study may take "a couple" of months, noted Councilman Wes Laraway. Mr. Kowalski said the process could take a year. Mr. Youmans said the study would likely be done for all of Gridley Road.

"We can go through a process," Mr. Laraway added. "We can't wave a magic wand and change the speed limit tomorrow but we can start the process."

Most of the speeders on the road are road residents, Mr. Kowalski added.

The town needs to do something before someone is more seriously injured or killed, Mr. Wade said.

"This town would have blood on its hand if there is a fatality," he added.

Mr. Wade said the Sheriff's office is willing to patrol the road.

"If they don't enforce it, it doesn't make a difference," Councilwoman Carrie Shaul noted.

Mr. Kowalski added, "I would like to see people slow down too, but signs won't make a difference."


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