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Police monitor compliance with reduced speed limit on U.S. 50

by Darlene J. Taylor

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- It has been about two months since the speed limit was reduced from 65 mph to 55 mph on U.S. 50 near the W.Va. 98/Davisson Run intersection.

Some residents say it has helped make the area safer, and law enforcement says most motorists are obeying the new speed limit.

"When the speed limit was first changed, deputies were giving a lot of written and verbal warnings," Harrison County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Albert Marano said.

"Now I'm seeing more citations. I think that over the past couple of months, the deputies have made an extra effort there to run radar and watch for traffic-light violators.

"Hopefully, that reduced the speed through that area, as well the potential for traffic accidents at that intersection," Marano said.

State Police Sgt. Rick Holley said the speed limit reduction was needed due to accidents and the severity of those accidents.

Numerous crashes at the site, including a double-fatality at the intersection in September, prompted state officials to lower the speed limit.

Marano said a deputy was running radar just west of the intersection recently and heard a crash behind him. Amotorist on W.Va. 98 had run the stoplight and struck a car coming downhill on U.S. 50 toward Clarksburg, Marano said.

"If the speed had not been reduced and the deputy had not been running radar, it may have been a more serious accident," Marano said.

Holley said troopers have been writing about the same number of speeding tickets now as they were before the speed limit change.

"We have a limited amount of enforcement time we can spend there. I would say motorists are generally complying with the new speed limit," Holley said.

Marvin Murphy, Division of Highways District 4 engineer, said his agency is seeing some compliance. But he said the DOHis still seeing some speeding, as well.

"We are doing some periodic checks on it. We haven't seen any accidents since the reduction that I am aware of," Murphy said.

The Division of Highways continues to monitor the changes, which also include a longer delay in stoplight changes.

"We want to make sure the changes are effective and speeds are reduced," Murphy said.

"The tolerance level for speeding there is zero at this point," Marano said.

And, for those who do get caught speeding, it can be very costly.

Harrison Magistrate Warren E. "Gizzy" Davis said the fine is $5 for traveling less than 10 mph over the posted speed limit on a controlled-access or limited-access highway.

"The fine for traveling more than 10 mph over the posted limit is up to $100. The fine amount is at the discretion of the magistrate. Court costs of $120 are added to both fines," Davis said.

Some residents worry that either people are not obeying the new speed limit or they are still taking a chance when turning.

"I don't see that people are actually obeying it," said J. Gerrard of Clarksburg. "There is still a little bit of a problem with people turning on red. I always look even if it is green before I turn onto Route 50."

Staff writer Darlene J. Taylor can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at dtaylor@exponent-telegram.com.