Police not giving up on Laraway speed enforcement

October 1, 2006
By Susan DeMar Lafferty Staff writer

Will County officials can't say yet if added police enforcement of speed limits on Laraway Road is having an effect, but police aren't giving up.

Forcing motorists to drive slower is the only way to increase safety on the increasingly traveled two-lane road, county officials said.

Police in Frankfort, New Lenox and Will County teamed up three times in the last few months to enforce the speed limits and continue to assign radar patrols.

Bruce Gould, the county's highway engineer, said he has not done a study since the crackdown on Laraway Road speeding began.

"My engineers are busy with construction projects in the summer. We'll concentrate on speed in the fall," he said.

"We will continue to work on it until we get the speed reduced," Frankfort Police Chief Robert Piscia said.

However, police officials in all three departments said they have not issued many speeding tickets. Many drivers slow down when they spot a police car, Piscia said.

"The speed limit is so high to begin with, we're not finding that many justifiable violations," New Lenox Police Chief Dan Martin said.

Local leaders would like Laraway Road's speed limit to be a constant 40 mph, Martin said. The posted limit now varies from 40 to 55 mph.

New Lenox Trustee Ray Tuminello has been campaigning for a lower speed limit after witnessing two accidents on Laraway Road that resulted in one fatality and one seriously-injured teenager. Regardless of the speed limit, "people just keep going 55," he said.

Under Illinois law, the speed limit on a county road can be changed only after an "engineering and traffic investigation." After such a study, the county board can adopt an ordinance changing the speed limit, county board member Dick Brandolino (R-New Lenox) said.

But Tuminello said he has been searching for a loophole in the law that would allow the county board to change the speed limit without having to go through a lengthy study.

Laraway Road is on the verge of massive development, with a commuter rail station, retail stores and hundreds of homes on the way.

"If we have all this development and they don't change the speed limit, I'm going to jump," Tuminello said. "I don't want to wait until we have another accident. If cars moved at the speed of the government, this would not be a problem."