Traffic Congestion Hinders Police Patrols

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Traffic around Payson was packed bumper-to-bumper this weekend as motorists from the Valley and other parts of the state made their way to and from Payson for the three-day Labor Day weekend.

Traffic on the Beeline Highway and Highway 260 was backed up for more than a mile Monday afternoon as travelers attempted to return to the Valley.

Payson Police Sgt. David Blalock, in a ride along with a Payson Roundup reporter for a DUI saturation patrol, was not surprised at the heavy holiday traffic.

He said there is a simple solution, though it could be a very expensive fix.

"We really need that bypass," he said, mentioning the traffic jams that occur on most weekends and holidays, especially in the summer months.

Traffic was so backed up on Monday afternoon that Blalock was unable to patrol the two highways like he normally does.

"It's extremely difficult due to the traffic," he said. "It's a conglomerated mess."

He said if he were to see someone driving illegally, he would create a worse hazard by trying to maneuver around vehicles to pull the driver over.

He said he has lived in Payson for 26 years -- the last 12 to 13 as a Payson police officer -- and added that experience has convinced him the bypass should be done as soon as possible, not 20 to 25 years in the future.

With traffic being bumper to bumper, Blalock on Monday was forced to patrol more of the side streets in Payson rather than sitting in traffic on the highways.

No DUIs were discovered in the three hours the Roundup reporter was with Blalock on Monday. He said there were two drivers who were arrested Friday for this offense.

He said DUIs are increasing all the time, and the deterrents are not helping enough.

"What it comes down to is people don't care, and they are going to take the risk," he said. Blalock also said a person does not have to have a blood-alcohol content of .08 to be arrested for a DUI.

A DUI, he said, is any alcohol or medicine that impairs a driver to the slightest degree.

Blalock did pull over three vehicles Monday while the Roundup reporter was with him. One was for speeding and one was for no insurance.

The driver of a Suburban who hopped the corner at Forest Drive in an attempt to maneuver around the traffic on Beeline Highway was given a warning.

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