Eagle Staff Writer

Opal Vindiola wants people to slow down.

The 73-year-old Bryan resident says construction near her home, and particularly the traffic because of the construction, has made getting to and from her driveway dangerous.

"I just wish people would slow down," said Vindiola, who lives on Heatherwood Drive off West Villa Maria Road. "They need to put a speed zone in there.

Eagle Photo/Paul Zoeller
Bryan police Officer Terrence Nunn keeps a close eye on motorists in an effort by the department to slow down speeding vehicles in the construction area along West Villa Maria Road. In 2005, Bryan issued 45 citations for speeding in a work zone.

"It's incredibly hard to get out onto Villa Maria and turn left out of my road because people immediately increase their speed after they pass the intersection," she said. "When I'm coming back home and put my blinker on to turn right, other cars are right on my tail."

Brazos County law enforcement officials sympathize with Vindiola and remind drivers to slow down in construction zones or face fines up to $1,000.

Orange cones and barricades line many Brazos County roadways, including the intersection of West Villa Maria and Finfeather roads near Vindiola's home.

Construction of a railroad overpass at the intersection has congested the area. Bryan police are patrolling the area and have issued an increasing number of traffic citations, officials said. People are driving, on average, 10 mph over the 35-mph speed limit, police spokeswoman Jillian Garza said.

Anyone caught speeding in this work zone, or any other, will be ticketed and will face an enhanced charge of speeding in a construction zone, which carries a heavier fine, Garza said.

"We want to remind people to be careful and slow down," she said. "Traffic fines double in these construction zones. [Drivers cited for speeding] could get fined up to $1,000."

In 2005, the city of Bryan issued 45 citations for speeding in a construction zone, bringing in more than $11,000, records state.

College Station statistics were not available this week, but the city's streets are riddled with work zones as well.

The construction of a bridge off Texas 6 south of Greens Prairie Road has motorists dodging cones, and the city is also in the middle of a $17 million construction project to build six continuous through lanes and a raised median on Texas Avenue from George Bush Drive to Harvey Mitchell Parkway South. The project should be complete by the summer of 2008, authorities said.

The Shell gas station and convenience store at the corner of Texas Avenue and Dominik Drive in College Station offers employee Gina Kelly a front-row seat to the busy construction zone intersection.

"I work here most nights, and I haven't really noticed speeding as a problem. But, then again, I don't have a radar. I see people get pulled over all the time. It happens a lot," Kelly said.

Kelly said she has also noticed a difference since students have returned to town. They are not familiar with the construction area and tend to either drive too slowly, tiptoeing around the work zones, or too fast, she said.

According to College Station police spokesman Lt. Mark Langwell, speeding is an ongoing problem, in and out of construction zones.

"We have a good group of officers out there on motorcycles, and they stay busy all the time," he said. "We just try to keep an eye on the problem areas to keep them under control."[/list]