WALTON HILLS — Speeders on village roads should not be complacent just because they do not see a police car in the area. They may find they have been busted without immediately realizing it.
The village is planning to place speed cameras on five roads — Alexander, Dunham, Egbert, Sagamore, and Walton roads — said Mayor Kevin Hurst.
Hurst, who also serves as the village’s safety director, said the system should be operational during the last week of March.
"It will be live by April 1 for sure," said Hurst.
Hurst said that in the meantime, an unmarked stationary vehicle is moving around among the five roads, monitoring traffic with a camera and doing traffic counts.
Hurst said the five roads were chosen because they are through residential areas and "there’s a lot of speeding going on there." He noted the roads are also major cut throughs between Walton Hills and surrounding areas, including Nordonia Hills and Bedford.
Other factors include a staff reduction in the police department, from 12 to 10 full-time officers, and the addition of the Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park, said Hurst.
He said a traffic study conducted in 2015-16 indicated that about 18,000 vehicles a day were moving through the village, as opposed to about 3,000 daily indicated by a previous study before the Rocksino came in, he said.
Hurst said the system includes radar to determine speed and a camera.
"It picks up their license plate and the driver’s picture," said Hurst.
Hurst said all five of the roads have posted speed limits of 35 mph and only those drivers caught driving at least 15 mph above this will be ticketed. Even this limit could generate a lot of tickets. Hurst said that a recent three-day study of the five roads showed that out of 245 speeders, 96 were driving at least 50 mph.
"I’m really surprised and shocked that there are that many people speeding in our town," he said.
According to an ordinance Village Council approved in December, the fine for driving 15 mph to 19 mph over the speed limit will be $100. The fine will be $200 for those driving 20 mph or more over the speed limit.
Currently, those caught driving more than 50 mph by the system as operated from the vehicle will be sent warnings, but once the system goes live, ticketing will begin. As per an Ohio Supreme Court decision last year, said Hurst, tickets will be a "civil matter," meaning that while fines can be imposed, drivers will not lose points on their licenses.
Drivers who feel they have a compelling argument to dispute their tickets can request an appeals hearing before a referee, but Hurst said that due to the fact that only those driving at least 15 mph over the speed limit will be ticketed, he believes it would be a difficult argument to make.
"Fifteen miles over is pretty substantial," he said.
Hurst said that given the limits of village manpower, it was felt this was the best way to deal with speeders and the ultimate purpose is not so much to punish speeders, but to get drivers to slow down.
"It’s to get people into compliance and provide safety. That's the main goal here," he said.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP