Gunning For Speeders

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Just in case you’re considering zipping down Longhorn Road anytime soon — be warned: They’re gunning for you.

Radar gunning that is.

Last week, Town Public Works Director LaRon Garrett recommended the town paint stripes and install reflectors to slow down traffic on Longhorn — and to install one to three speed humps if that doesn’t work.

But the council instead waved aside that recommendation and pleaded with the police department to start cranking out the speeding tickets.

The debate was complicated on Thursday by an ongoing study by the town’s Surface Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) suggesting the town raise the limit on key arterial streets where most people already drive over the speed limit.

“Citizens living on Longhorn want everything and anything you can put in there,” said Councilor Mike Vogel.

Noting that the high school fronts on Longhorn, Vogel added “so let’s not just dink around until we get a kid killed. I don’t know what moron said ‘raise the speed limit.’”

Since 85 percent of drivers on the 25 mph Longhorn go slower than 35 mph and 15 percent drive a full 10 miles or more over the limit, traffic flow considerations could justify increasing the speed limit, according to discussions at the STAC committee chaired by Tom Loeffler.

The STAC committee has been studying ways to move traffic more quickly through town by raising the speed limit on arterial streets like Longhorn and to draw people out of neighborhood streets.

However, the council seemed more interested in slowing people way down on Longhorn.

Councilor Michael Hughes said the speed limit on Longhorn several years ago was set at 15 miles an hour, due to the presence of the school.

“It was raised because a former mayor wanted to get to work faster,” interjected Councilor John Wilson.

Hughes said the town should enforce the existing limit. “Short of installing speed humps, I don’t think striping will do a bit of good.”

Councilor Ed Blair agreed. “I’m not in favor of striping either.”

Vice Mayor Su Connell supported the idea of a crackdown on speeders. “It’s scary (driving Longhorn) sometimes.”

“Maybe we can help balance the budget with this,” joked Mayor Kenny Evans, in reference to the budget windfall Star Valley has reaped from its highway photo speeding ticket stations.

Police Chief Don Engler promised to go after speeders near the school.

“We’ll take a different approach and see if we can improve the situation to some degree,” he said. He said the town owns a sign that tells drivers how fast they’re going as they approach, but it hasn’t been working lately.

“If 15 percent are going over 35, they should really get hammered,” declared Councilor Blair.

Blair suggested the department post an officer on the street full time or perhaps put an officer in an unmarked car with a radar gun there for a portion of every day.

“It would be difficult to have someone stationed continually there,” said Engler cautiously.

At the moment, the 30-officer department is about 10 percent below full staffing levels and the current town budget imposed restrictions on overtime.

However, he promised to step up enforcement on the street in coming weeks to see if that will slow speeders.

The council liked that idea — and agreed to give the crackdown time to work before considering tougher measures, like speed humps that would deliver a major jolt to anyone going faster than 25 mph.

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