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Boulevard construction means more speeding tickets

Adding a bicycle trail alongside Maumelle Boulevard will eventually add value to the area but in the meantime construction issues are creating problems for some Boulevard drivers.

Since construction started, the number of traffic tickets has spiked.

Maumelle police chief Sam Williams said Monday he was surprised at the dramatic increase in the number of tickets his officers have written. He said the department has not been on a crusade or paying more attention to that area. In fact, he said, the new 30 mph speeding sign disappeared and police deferred writing speeding tickets until the new sign was erected.

Normally a 45-mph speed limit through the city limits of Maumelle, the construction zone saw the advent of 30-mph speed signs which many people apparently missed. The sign package isn’t similar to state contractor requirements but its still sufficient, highway officials said.

According to Maumelle District Court Chief Court Clerk Michelle Daniel, during the month of October, 26 tickets were issued by the police, making the month comparable to the 24 tickets issued in October, 2012.

But in September Maumelle Police wrote 38 speeding tickets compared to just 13 for the year before.

One observer noted that North Little Rock Police have been known to write that many tickets in one-day alone on Counts Massie Road where it often sets up motorcycle cops around lunchtime.

Since each ticket was written in a construction zone it has the potential to cost violators much more. If construction workers are present at the time of ticketing, fines can increase.

A typical speeding ticket in Maumelle has a minimum fine of $150, according to Maumelle District Court Bailiff Michael McNeil. The tickets increase to a minimum of $185 and $225 without enhancements or credits depending upon the speed of the violator. If the driver is wearing a seat belt at the time of the stop, $10 is deducted from the price, he said. Under Maumelle’s statutes a work zone incident automatically adds a $50 enhancement, McNeil said, making a minimum working zone speeding ticket cost $190.

Randy Ort, a spokesman for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, said while the project’s federal funding came through the state agency and Maumelle Boulevard is a state highway, city officials are supervising and approving the work on the bicycle trail. He said state law doubles the fines in work areas when workers are present.

The project started July 31 and involves widening Arkansas Highway 100 with bike lanes from Arnold Palmer Drive to Crystal Hill Road. It was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.

Mayor Mike Watson said the contractors are working hard to finish the project and have added extra staff.

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