Police Presence On New Bypass Keeping Drivers On Their Toes

By
Susan Tebben - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Mon, Oct 7, 2013 10:31 am

Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol wasted little time handing out the first speeding ticket on the new Nelsonville Bypass when it opened Tuesday, needing less than five minutes to do so. More than 20 citations were issues within a five-hour time period whereas Nelsonville police have yet to issue a moving violation through town since the bypass opened.

The inaugural speeding ticket was issued quickly to one driver on the new Route 33 Nelsonville bypass.

“It was approximately two minutes after the bypass opened,” said Highway Patrol Sgt. Christopher Davis.

The trooper that led the first pack of cars onto the eastbound lanes of the bypass didn’t even make it off the new road before issuing the christening speeding ticket.

From 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m on Tuesday, the patrol issued 23 citations on the new bypass. The first citation came between the south end of the construction that continues on the road and mile marker 15 in Hocking County.

“I’m not really surprised, and we may see it pick up even more because a lot of cars were going under the speed limit the first day,” Davis said.

Troopers kept a close watch on the bypass when it opened and have since integrated its patrol into their normal routine. Speeds recorded by vehicles on the new road ranged from those traveling slower than the posted 70 mph limit to a maximum of 89 mph.

“It’s just something they have to learn, it’s going to be an adjustment,” said Lt. George Harlow. “But we’re not going to patrol it more than any other road, it’s just a part of our system now.”

On what is now Old Route 33, traffic has been considerably slower, with police needing less and less time on the roads to catch speeders.

“Since (the bypass) opened, we haven’t had any moving violations,” said Nelsonville Police Department Chief Jason Wallace.

The traffic changes will give the department more time to focus on crime deterrence in the area, Wallace said. While there are concerns about businesses on the road, for law enforcement, the bypass is being seen as a positive.

Of the traffic stops those first few hours, two citations were issued for seat belt violations and one was given to a commercial vehicle. Seven warnings were given during the time period.

“I wouldn’t call it an inordinate amount,” Harlow said. “Things are really going smoothly.”

Since the first day, numbers have slowed down, with a total of 27 tickets as of 8 a.m. Friday morning. According to Harlow, a total of 50 vehicles have been stopped on the road.

Harlow said the patrol would be keeping an eye on the area west of Movies 10, where the speed limit goes from 70 mph to 50 mph.

“We just want to make sure everyone is aware of that change and watching carefully,” Harlow said.

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