Concord — May 16, 2008 — Speed boaters on Lake Winnipesaukee will likely have to slow down next summer. The Senate yesterday passed trial speed limits for the state’s biggest lake in a 14-10 vote. The bill would limit speeds to 45 miles per hour during the day and 25 miles per hour at night.
Boat speed limits have been debated for years. This bill differs from past plans in that it applies only to Lake Winnipesaukee and sunsets after two years, in 2011.
The bill was hotly debated by the public, and senators continued that debate yesterday. Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a Manchester Democrat, was perhaps the most excitable. He spoke against the bill. “I always thought this was the ‘Live Free or Die’ state,” D’Allesandro said. “And here we are restricting every aspect of our lives.”
D’Allesandro also suggested the speed limits would, in fact, cause even more speeding – by what he called “the boat police.” “Who is going to arrest the boat police?” D’Allesandro said. ” ‘Cause they’re going to have to speed to catch the speeders.”
Sen. Robert Letourneau, a Derry Republican, also opposed the bill. He said the possible speed limits have made boaters hesitant to put their boats in the water, which hurts lakeside businesses. Letourneau said he’d rather enforce existing boating laws.
But Sen. Peter Burling, a Cornish Democrat, said it’s important to consider those who say fast boats are bad for the lake. He said lawmakers tried to strike a balance. “It’s ‘Live Free or Die’ for everybody, and that includes the family in the kayak,” he said.
The bill now heads to Gov. John Lynch.