LARGO - The tickets are coming! The tickets are coming!

The Largo Police Department has issued its fair warning: come Monday, officers will be heavily enforcing the newly reduced speed limit along Clearwater-Largo Road.

That means from then on, motorists who drive more than 30 mph along the 2-mile stretch between Belleair Road and West Bay Drive might find themselves paying a speeding ticket.

"It's not about citations. It's about safety," said Sgt. George Edmiston, of the department's traffic enforcement division. "That roadway is not conducive to 40 mph anymore."

Clearwater-Largo has recently become more "pedestrian friendly," Edmiston said, with more business, narrow lanes and newly landscaped medians.

It made sense to slow things down to reduce the possibility of accidents, he said.

In the few weeks since City Commissioners signed off on the idea, police have set up electronic sign boards and attached orange flags to new speed limit signs to highlight the change.

And up until now, drivers have gotten a break. So far, officers have only been issuing warnings about speed, Edmiston said.

"I think we went above and beyond to warn people, " he said. "Everybody's aware of it and for the most part, compliance has been good."

But that doesn't mean it's been an easy adjustment.

The lower speed limit already has cramped some drivers' style.

"They're going to have their hands full because everybody goes 40, " said Ceida Houseman of Clearwater, who regularly uses the road to get to her daughter's boutique near West Bay Drive. "This is a commuter road."

Houseman said she doesn't like the reduced speed limit, but understands it may be necessary now because of recent improvements to the medians.

New palm trees and other landscaping may be pretty, she said, but it makes it harder to see.

Add that to a lower speed limit and Houseman said she wonders if drivers will start looking for a different route.

"It's just going to deter people from coming here," she said. "I will be taking a different road. I do not need a ticket."

Bob Walker, who lives in Belleair and owns a dog boutique in Clearwater, said he doesn't care either way.

People already have to drive slow enough because of the congestion, he said.

"People can hardly get up to 40 mph anyway. It's a naturally slow road," he said. "I don't think it'll make any difference."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at 445-4158.

[Last modified July 7, 2007, 21:13:44]