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JT road speed limit to remain 40 mph

Published December 14. 2019 06:43AM

The speed limit at the western end of Center Avenue in Jim Thorpe is going to stay at 40 mph following a speed study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joe Schatz said the borough requested the study after hearing concerns from residents in the area about the Center Avenue intersections at Coal Street and Lentz Trail.

PennDOT’s study, however, found that only 15 percent of motorists were driving at a speed significantly outside the 40 mph range and that a change of the speed limit is not warranted.

“There are times when I disagree with PennDOT,” Schatz said, “but in this case, we had a lot of officers commit a large amount of time to detail in that area, and they were coming back with speeds that support what the study determined.

“We had two speed-related crashes up there, and I understand why residents had the concerns. To their part, residents did a great job putting signs out to slow down and helping in that regard.”

While the speed limit will not change, Schatz said PennDOT did recommend bringing the intersections up to standards by putting in larger stop signs. They also added “stop sign ahead” signage to give motorists additional warning.

Mayor Mike Sofranko said while it’s nice 85 percent of drivers are following the rules, it is the 15 percent who are not that he worries about.

“That doesn’t sound like a big number, but it only takes one of those people to kill someone,” he said.

One thing that could help, he added, is state legislators passing a law that would allow local police to use radar.

Pennsylvania remains the only state in the country that prohibits municipal police from using radar.

Currently, municipal police can only use tools like VASCAR, which measures a vehicle’s speed by the time it takes to move between two lines.

The Senate passed a bill in June introduced by Mario Scavello that would allow local police to use radar. It would put a revenue cap, 20% of their municipal budget, on the amount of a money a municipality may keep from speeding tickets.

The House Transportation Committee amended the bill to allow only full-time local police departments to use radar. The bill awaits a vote from the full House.

“Speeding is a never ending issue, and we don’t have the tools right now to deal with it,” Sofranko said. “Hopefully there can be some traction on this.”

Council President Greg Strubinger said the police department was extremely proactive in requesting the speed study.

“We’re very fortunate to have such a professional department,” he said.

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