School board again hears about speed cameras

Polk School District Superintendent Laurie Atkins (left) speaks with Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome prior to the school board’s work session Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The topic of speed-detection cameras along roadways in designated school zones in Polk County once again was presented to the Polk School District Board of Education at its monthly work session last week.

Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome spoke to the board on Tuesday, Dec. 1, and provided some new information as he and the city seek the group’s permission to install the cameras along Rockmart Highway and U.S. 278 at the entrances to both Cedartown High School and Cedartown Middle School.

Both schools are inside the Cedartown city limits.

The Cedartown City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance and tentative contract with the company RedSpeed during its November meeting, but the school board would have to vote to request permission from the Georgia Department of Transportation in order to install the cameras, according to state law.

“We’re not talking about punitively trying to enforce the law on people that are going five, six, seven, eight miles an hour over the speed limit. We’re looking at a problem in speeding,” said Newsome, who originally requested the board look into taking action on the cameras at its planning retreat in September.

“What I would like is to put them up and the very presence of the cameras slow down traffic to the extent that we never give a ticket.”

Newsome presented the results of a traffic study performed by RedSpeed focusing on the entrances to Cedartown High School on both Rockmart Highway — which is also the main entrance for Westside Elementary — and the Cedartown Bypass, and at the entrance to Cedartown Middle School on the bypass just a few miles north of the high school.

The studies indicated that there were 275 violations recorded in one day at the CHS lower entrance and 798 at the CHS top entrance at the Bypass. There were 1,135 traffic violations recorded at the CMS entrance. A violation equals at least 11 mph over the speed limit.

“These numbers were right along with what I anticipated that they might be higher than what you might have anticipated,” Newsome said.

The test clocked vehicles who drove through the school zones from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., which is when school zone speeds are enforceable.

Traffic studies also showed no speeding problems at either Cherokee Elementary or Northside Elementary. Newsome said he has no intentions to request speed cameras be placed at either of those schools.

Newsome stated that the fees for these violations were $75 for the first violation and $125 for the second violation, with the city getting 65% of each fee and RedSpeed getting 35%. RedSpeed would not charge for the installation and maintenance of the cameras, which would be active 24 hours a day but only issue speed citations to vehicles caught speeding during normal school hours.

The board had heard from Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd in September about the possibility of allowing for the same company to set up cameras at Youngs Grove Elementary and Van Wert Elementary — the only two schools located outside of any city limits — but has not taken any action on Dodd’s request.

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