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Jim Thorpe targets speeders

Jim Thorpe Borough is seeing more traffic in unusual areas as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation conducts a $3.5 million project to remove dangerous rocks along the Mansion House Hill.

And the town’s mayor is warning drivers who are in a hurry that if they speed through the borough during construction, they will be pulled over and cited.

“Everyone’s traveling to different areas or at least trying to get home quicker and beat the mad rush. The problem is schools are coming to an end, schools are closing, children are going to be back out on the streets,” said Mike Sofranko, mayor of Jim Thorpe.

Construction began on the Mansion House Hill last week, and is scheduled to continue through May 2020. The multimillion-dollar project involves closing one of the main thoroughfares in and out of the borough, Route 209, for nearly seven hours per day.

At Thursday’s meeting of Jim Thorpe Borough Council, Mayor Mike Sofranko said police have seen drivers speeding in different areas of the borough since construction began. As a result, he said on Thursday, police will step up their speeding enforcement.

“We are going to begin a substantial crackdown on speeding throughout the borough. This is your fair warning on that,” Sofranko said.

Jim Thorpe Police are already helping to enforce the road closure at the bottom of the Mansion House Hill. Sofranko wanted to make clear at Thursday’s meeting that the state is paying the department for the use of the officers who are protecting the work zone, and it does not require overtime.

PennDOT is not involved with the decision to enforce speeding in the borough.

The official detour for the Mansion House project calls for drivers to turn off Route 209 South in Weissport, and take Long Run Road, Maury Road, and Route 903 South to reach the Sgt. Andrew J. “A.J.” Baddick Memorial Bridge.

But Sofranko said drivers are taking their own detours. He is concerned in particular about reckless driving on Flagstaff and Route 903.

In order to address the reckless driving in the borough, Sofranko said he and Chief Joseph Schatz have agreed to have officers spend more time on speeding enforcement.

Sofranko said officers will be painting lines on the road so they can conduct VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) operations. Drivers could see officers in places that they may not expect.

Sofranko said he doesn’t like the idea of borough police officers spending their time watching for speeders when they could be addressing other issues in the borough.

“I hate to spend that kind of money on speeding. I know that we have other issues, when we have drug problems and bigger issues going on throughout the borough. This was getting a little out of hand,” he said.