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Town seeks remedy for rush near high school


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000

KENNETH CITY -- Residents along one street in town can tell the time by the traffic.

Beginning about 7 a.m., cars rush down 62nd Street N to get students to Dixie Hollins High School in time for class. Shortly after 7:20 a.m., and the first bell, the pace slows.

At the 1:50 p.m. dismissal, they're off and running again.

But it's not just the school kids.

About 11:30 each night, a motorcycle roars down 62nd Street with the throttle wide open.

"It's like a speedway out here at certain hours of the day," said Charles Mohney, one of the high school's neighbors. "The rate of speed out here at any given hour of the day is ridiculous."

Kenneth City Mayor Bill Smith agreed that the situation is bad.

"When they turn out of school, you'd better be running," Smith said. "They're all over the place up there and they fly."

That makes it dangerous, Mohney said, not just for other drivers but for children walking along the sidewalk to and from nearby Blanton Elementary. Other pedestrians and children playing in front yards are also at risk, he said.

"I just think that the overall solution to the problem is speed tables," Mohney said.

Speed tables, or wide, flattened-out speed bumps, could be placed at intervals along 62nd Street between 54th and 46th avenues N, he said.

But police Chief Jim Ernst, who acts as Kenneth City's traffic engineer, said that's not possible because the road is a main thoroughfare.

The better solution, Ernst said, is intensified enforcement, and it has been a priority along that stretch since the middle of last month -- just after a car careened out of control and hit a pedestrian.

Since Oct. 15, officers have handed out 15 citations: seven for speeding, one for reckless driving, four for not using seat belts, two for having no driver's license, and one for passing a stopped school bus. Some drivers got more than one citation, he said.

"For this area, it's a high level (of citations)," Ernst said. "The numbers indicate that there's still a problem there. We will be continuing our efforts."

That will include more than enforcement. The town is awaiting delivery of a sign that tells drivers how fast they're going. That will help slow people down, Ernst said.

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