State patrol to crack down on Highway 240 speeders
By Paula Horton, Herald staff writer

Lead-footed drivers on Highway 240 better be prepared to back off the gas pedal or open their wallets.

Washington State Patrol troopers will be out in force looking for speeders on the highway between Kennewick and Richland, the state patrol said Thursday.

The two miles of highway, essentially between Columbia Center Boulevard and Interstate 182, is the top spot statewide for speeders for the second quarter in a row.

A recent survey showed 81 percent of vehicles drove at or above the 60 mph speed limit on the newly built stretch of highway, the state patrol said.

And, more than 1,500 vehicles were clocked driving 90 mph or faster in the last three months of last year, according to the data.

The survey by the state Department of Transportation also showed the average vehicle speed was 63.2 mph on the highway, which leads other state roads with 60 mph limits. Nearly 6 percent were recorded driving more than 10 mph over the limit.

Two motorcycles and two unmarked Aggressive Driving Apprehension Team vehicles from the state patrol's Kennewick detachment will "aggressively" enforce the speed limit, hoping to put the brakes on speeders, said Lt. Jay Cabezuela.

"They're going to be out there every day ... until we can hopefully have a positive impact with people's driving behavior changing on that stretch of roadway," Cabezuela said.

A speeding ticket for going 10 mph over the limit costs $113.

It's unclear why the portion of Highway 240 seems to appeal to speeders. The improvements to the road might be a factor, Cabezuela said. It has twice as many lanes now and is "nice and flat where it used to be somewhat winding and had some hills," he said.

The Department of Transportation's speed survey is updated every quarter. In the third quarter of 2007, the survey showed 82.8 percent of drivers were speeding on the same stretch of Highway 240.

The second hot spot for speeders is a stretch of Interstate 5 through Lacey, with 74 percent of drivers speeding, the data said.