Deputies Crack Down On Highway 97 Speeders During Traffic Blitz

March 13, 2009

One after another, Escambia deputies cracked down on speeders on Highway 97 in the heart of Walnut Hill Thursday.
Four deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department Traffic Unit conducted the operation, stopping car after car for violating the speed limit. In the 45 mph stretch of Highway 97 at Arthur Brown Road, near Ernest Ward Middle, deputies stopped vehicles traveling over 60 mph.
“The new sheriff has heard the complaints, and we are going to beef up traffic operations in the north part of the county as much as we can,” said ECSO Traffic Unit Sgt. Ray Griffith. “We are going to answer those complaints.”
Many of the North Escambia traffic complaints have centered on Highway 97, known locally for its speeders and the number of traffic crashes. The recent opening of the Wind Creek Casino in Atmore has led to a noticeable increase in traffic on the highway.
“It’s a small area with the school and the other places, it’s almost like a small town,” the sergeant said about Walnut Hill. “People here have a right to feel safe on the highway.”
The Traffic Unit often spends days in Pensacola working traffic in between escorting funerals. But Sheriff David Morgan has directed the unit to crack down on traffic in North Escambia when time allows, make traffic control a priority.
“We will be back,” Griffith said. “This is not the only time you will see us up here. We won’t do it once and forget about it.”
He said the unit plans to do a similar crackdown in Century in near future, and they plan to return to the Walnut Hill area soon.
Thursday afternoon, four marked units were lined up in a driveway just south of Ernest Ward Middle School, partially hidden from northbound traffic by an old building. One after another, the deputies pulled out after speeders.
The location was picked because of its lower 45 mph speed limit near the school.
The tickets being written Thursday were not cheap. Driving 60 mph in a 45 mph zone is a $266 ticket. Hit 30 mph over the posted speed limit, and the ticket has no fixed cost. The offender is required to see a judge, and the judge sets the fine amount at his or her discretion.
Pictured top: An Escambia County Deputy on a traffic stop Thursday afternoon on Highway 97 in Walnut Hill. Pictured middle and below: Deputies line up waiting for the next speeder during a traffic blitz on Highway 97 Thursday afternoon. photos, click to enlarge.