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Be prepared: Paonia speed limits to change

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At the June 13 meeting the Paonia board of trustees will consider an ordinance adopting new in-town speed limits. The changes are scheduled to take effect Aug. 1.

Signs at all entrances to town will be posted with a standard 25-mph limit on all streets, "unless otherwise posted." Posted areas will include the downtown core of Grand Avenue, Fourth and Fifth streets between Grand and Delta avenues, and Second Street from Niagara to North Avenue.

The goals are to simplify the speed limits and to make the streets safer for everyone, said town administrator Ken Knight.

Traffic in all alleyways will be set at 5 mph, but will not be posted. The state does not give a standard speed limit for alleys, said Knight. "I don't think you need anybody going any faster down our alleys than that."

The town believes it is prudent to set a 15 mph limit the entire stretch of Fourth and Fifth streets in order to "provide safety to the schools and the downtown business district," and the Paonia Town Park area, said Knight.

While school zone speed limits are covered by state statute, trustee Bill Bear said he's received "a lot of public feedback" on the 15-mph limit in areas east of the school zone on both streets. Residents don't have a problem with 20 mph, "but 15 is pretty slow."

Trustee Chelsea Bookout said that given the fact that there are no sidewalks around the park and the heavy foot traffic in the area includes children, "I fully support it being 15 miles an hour." Once sidewalks are built in the area, perhaps the board can re-visit it, she said.

Other notable changes include the Samuel Wade Road/Third Street entrance to town, which will be lowered from a current 35 mph to 25 mph beginning at the Samuel Wade Bridge. Currently set at 30 mph, Second Street east of the railroad crossing will drop to 25 mph.

At the Grand Avenue entrance off of Highway 133, Delta County controls speed limits, so that shouldn't change, said Police Chief Neil Ferguson. However, the speed limit will drop to 25-mph before Subway, which is currently set at 30 mph, and to 15 mph beginning at the "Y" intersection of Fourth and Fifth streets.

The speed limit at the Mathews Lane entrance will increase from 20- to 25-mph. A discussion to place stop signs at the intersects of Mathews Lane, First and Niagara streets resulted in no action, and a motion by trustee Suzanne Watson to keep the speed limit at 20 mph failed by a tiebreaker vote by the mayor.

"I think it's a dangerous corner as it is," said Watson. Because people generally go five miles over the posted speed, "That would put that corner up to 30 miles per hour... I don't see any reason we should increase that to 25, especially if we're talking about putting stop signs there."

Ferguson said stop signs at the intersection, which currently includes a yield sign at Niagara, are not off the table. Once the new speed limits are posted, he plans to re-visit the intersection to determine if they would be of benefit.

While the police department has not heavily enforced them, bicycles will also be required to follow the new speed limits, said Chief Ferguson. In fact, the police department plans to step up enforcement for bicyclists, which are subject to the same traffic laws as vehicles.

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