Mesa hopes speed cameras will make Rhodes school zone safer - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Mesa hopes speed cameras will make Rhodes school zone safer

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Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 11:30 pm | Updated: 8:41 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Mesa is beefing up enforcement of speed limits near Rhodes Junior High School. Speed cameras are being installed on Baseline Road, in the median west of Longmore.

The installation is about half finished, police spokeswoman Diana Tapia said Tuesday, although it isn't known when they will come online.

To school officials, these cameras are welcome additions to speed-reader signs and flashing lights warning drivers of pedestrians.

"Anything we can do to slow them down," Principal Matt Devlin said.

Speeding motorists are a chronic issue for residents living near the school at 1860 S. Longmore. The matter came to a head in September 2005, when a red-light runner struck and killed a ninth-grader at the school.

Afterward, residents successfully lobbied City Hall to lower the speed limit in the school zone on Baseline. Now, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays when school is in session, the limit is 35 mph. At all other times, it is 45 mph.

These new cameras will record drivers reaching speeds 11 mph above the posted limit, no matter the time of day. "We think it'll be very helpful," Tapia said.

The city's hired vendor, American Traffic Solutions, is installing the cameras.

Currently, nine intersections in the city have speed cameras. An additional 21 crossings are equipped with cameras to catch red-light infractions.

Deterrents to speeding near Rhodes have worked in the past.

In October 2005, the month after Sean Casey's death, the majority of drivers on that stretch of Baseline drove between 45 and 58 mph. In April 2006, after the signs were installed, the majority drove between 38 and 40 mph.

According to the city's most recent statistics, the stretch of Baseline near the school sees an average of 27,600 vehicles every weekday.

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