Crackdown continues on a stretch of I-55
By Robert Kelly

HERCULANEUM Heavy enforcement of traffic laws is continuing during the holiday season along a stretch of Interstate 55 that includes Pevely, Herculaneum and Festus.

The 8.5-mile stretch was designed as a Travel Safe Zone by the Missouri Transportation Department in February. Police have written hundreds of citations in that zone since then.

"We're seeing signs of compliance" with the speed limit of 70 mph because of the increased enforcement, said Herculaneum police Capt. Mark Tulgetske.

Tulgetske says police have stepped up enforcement of the speed limit and other traffic laws in the Travel Safe Zone on several days throughout this year. At this time of year, Tulgetske says, officers are paying particular attention to potential drunken drivers coming from holiday parties.

Police departments recently got a federal grant that will allow them to continue the increased enforcement effort through next year, Tulgetske said.

Police departments, sheriff's deputies and the Highway Patrol have been using group enforcement operations and regular patrols to ticket reckless drivers and raise awareness of the Travel Safe Zone designation.

The program receives money through the state Division of Highway Safety, with additional support from the municipal governments of Herculaneum, Festus and Pevely.

At least 28 people have died, and more than 1,000 have been injured in accidents on the designated stretch of Interstate 55 in the past six years.

Police departments and state highway officials have pledged to make the Interstate 55 Travel Safe Zone a zero-tolerance area, where tickets but no warnings for traffic violations will be issued.

Lighted sign boards at either end of the designated stretch alert drivers that they are entering the Travel Safe Zone by posting a tally of the number of tickets that have been written there. The current total is 1,441.

Transportation officials have designated five sections of interstate highways in the St. Louis area as Travel Safe Zones.

Other Travel Safe Zones: Interstate 70 from the Poplar Street Bridge to a point five miles west of the bridge; Interstate 70 from Wentzville Parkway to Lake Saint Louis; Interstate 270 from St. Charles Rock Road to Dorsett Road; and Interstate 44 from Highway 109 to Pacific.